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Assignment Three

PART 1 The text selected is an excerpt of a blog (published by the BBC) of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who writes on her feelings and experiences of school in Pakistan. This is appropriate for the group of LI all-female adult students, who can relate to a schoolgirls experiences. This topic choice enables schemata to be activated,1 hence ensuring higher confidence and success levels. The text also satisfies Riddels criteria (in text selection) not only for suitability but also interest - it contains an element of surprise with the writers experiences regarding school being hardly conventional. The text offers appropriate challenge for the students as it is not too easy or difficult. The sentence structures are not usually complex, and overall length is appropriate. Although there are several new words in the text, only some words would require pre-teaching. According to Harmer, pre-teaching all the new words would deny students the chance to understand authentic texts for themselves.2

PART 2 Lead-in According to Riddel, it is the teachers responsibility to keep interest in the text high. Hence, the leadin is an absolutely crucial stage in a reading lesson.3 To generate interest in the topic and make the students want to read the text, the students are shown a picture of some schoolgirls, and are asked to discuss in pairs (2mins) three questions. The first two questions help to set the context of the reading text and assists in the next stage, while the last question helps them to personalise the topic to generate more interest. Pre-Reading Stage Next, to establish the context of the text, a prediction task would be given (1 min) so that students can tune in to what they would read.4 Students are informed that the text is written by a schoolgirl in Pakistan writing on her experiences in school. They are asked to discuss in pairs what the text will be about. The prediction task is particularly important as Harmer emphasises that prediction is vitally important if we want students to engage fully with the text.5

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J. Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching. J. Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching. 3 D. Riddel, Teaching English as a Foreign Language. 4 British Council, Developing Reading Skills. 5 J. Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching.

After a brief open class feedback (2 mins) concerning their predictions, the pre-teach of the vocabulary items Taliban and edict (2 mins) is carried out with the use of pictures and CCQs. This enables students to have sufficient vocabulary to do the tasks, and prevent students blocking on key vocabulary central to the topic.6 First While-Reading Stage Next, the students are shown the gist task. It requires them to find out if their predictions were correct, and how the writer feels about school. A strict time limit of 1.5 minutes would be imposed here to encourage quick reading. The strict time limit is crucial because it prevents students from reading slowly and becoming concerned about understanding everything.7 Harmer classifies this gist reading as a Type 1 task, where the students are reading for general understanding. Importantly, this gist task takes place before the scan reading task because it is easier and will build the students confidence.8 Also, Harmer recommends moving from the general (the gist task) to the specific (scan reading) because it allows students to get a feel for the text before attacking it later.9 After the gist reading task, students tell their partner whether their predictions were correct and compare their answers (2 mins). The pair work is particularly important for three reasons - as students will feel more confident in sharing answers with the class, get more opportunities to work together, and so that individual students do not get exposed as having failed in a task.10 During the open class feedback that follows (2 mins), the teacher actively monitors to check if any individual had difficulty with the text, and see where problems may lie.11 Second While-Reading Stage The next stage involves the set up of what Harmer terms as a Type 2 task, requiring students to scan for specific information. This gives students a reason to read in more detail. According to Riddel, this reading skill is helpful for students because it is a skill that is needed very often. This skill requires one to disregard a lot of information and look for what is needed as quickly as possible.12 A strict time limit of 3 minutes is imposed to encourage the practice of this skill. Riddel recommends a mix of at least two question types, as reflected in the task.13 The students work individually to try and do the specific information task, and share their answers in pairs with the teacher monitoring and offering feedback where appropriate.14 In the open class feedback that follows (3 mins), the teacher requests students to highlight if there is any particular difficulty, and also asks nominated students which parts of the text the answer was obtained from.
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British Council, Developing Reading Skills. D. Riddel, Teaching English as a Foreign Language. 8 D. Riddel, Teaching English as a Foreign Language. 9 J. Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching. 10 J. Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching. 11 British Council, Developing Reading Skills. 12 D. Riddel, Teaching English as a Foreign Language. 13 D. Riddel, Teaching English as a Foreign Language. 14 British Council, Developing Reading Skills.

PART 3 Post-Reading Stage The follow-up activity is a writing task that aims to exploit the text. Students write a postcard to Malala, the writer of the diary (8 mins). Riddel advised that for students to develop writing skills, they need to have help in a particular area of writing.15 For LI students, this would be postcard writing as it would build confidence/success. The task exploits the text because it draws on the strong emotions some would have upon discovering that schoolgirls in parts of Pakistan are banned from attending school. There is also opportunity for personalisation as the writing task requires students to share their opinions/feelings on education. Before they start writing, they are shown a postcard-model, and answers are elicited on what responses could be given to the three guiding questions. Questions on postcard layout are also posed to ensure success. (2 mins). The activity ends in a gallery walk of their completed postcards, as students would be interested to read the responses of their peers. (4 mins). This activity promotes interaction and provides some skim reading practice too. Finally, the teacher would highlight commendable areas and points for improvement with regard to grammar or vocabulary. (3 mins)

996 words (excludes footnotes and bibliography)

Bibliography Teaching English as a Foreign Language, D. Riddel, Hodder Education, 2003. The Practice of English Language Teaching, J. Harmer, Pearson Education Ltd., 2007. Developing Reading Skills, British Council Singapore, 2012.

Submitted by: Tan Wun Yeh Edwin


D. Riddel, Teaching English as a Foreign Language.