Skills: reading 3. Tasks for reading activities: putting a title to a story.

Skills: reading 3. Tasks for reading activities: putting a title to a story.

One of the exam tasks in the Cambridge young learner exams is to read a short story and decide from 3 possibilities which is the most appropriate title for the story. Practicing this skill in a high frequency fashion is at first glance difficult because for every story, there is only one set of 3 titles to choose from.

We help our trainee teachers at the TEFL Centre in Málaga to become aware of how to get around these problems by being imaginative with the tasks they ask their students to do in order to maximise the potential production from the minimum input. In this case we will see how to generate many more than 3 choices for titles for a single story by using an important principle: get the students to generate the content.

Here is an example.

1)      Separate the class into pairs or small groups. Ideally 5 or more groups will be needed, although working with fewer is possible with the drawback that not as much material will be generated. If you only have a small number of students, they can work individually.

2)      Give out the story to the students and ask them to read it. Then ask the students in their groups to secretly write titles for the story. Ideally they should produce 3 each, or more if you only have few students. If there are 5 groups this will produce 15 titles. Ask them to put something in the title that is inconsistent with the story. Explaining this with younger learners, especially in English, may prove too difficult, so as we always recommend to trainees on the TEFL course, demonstrate what you want them to do by example. This will need an example text, with the teacher demonstrating how to generate 3 titles, all of which somehow are incorrect. As an example, consider the Little Red Riding Hood story. We could read the short version of the story and offer the following titles: ‘Little Red Riding Hood makes friends with a Wolf’, ‘Granny saves Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘A Wolf eats Little Red Riding Hood’.

3)      This requires the teacher to monitor and ensure that something in the title is inconsistent with the story and prompt inconsistent ideas. This is difficult for students to generate, so be ready to offer inspiration!

4)      Once the students have produced their titles, they are gathered together and spread out on the table.

5)      Each group will recognise their own titles but not those of the other groups. The task is to correctly identify the only title that correctly reflects the content of the story, and this title is supplied by the teacher.

6)      A nice way to get students to choose the title is to allow them to bid for titles. For example, the teacher can give out beans which represent money, say 30 beans each, and group one goes first by offering a certain number of beans for a title. Other teams can try to out bid the first team, but ultimately, the highest bidder will keep the title. The procedure is then repeated with the second group choosing a title and the bidding procedure repeated. When all of the titles have been ‘bought’, the teacher reveals the correct title and the group that owns it is the winner.

7)      Note that ideally, the students should write their titles onto a word document that can then copied and pasted onto a ‘master’ document which can then be printed out. This gives us the advantage of the students being unable to identify the authors of the titles by recognising handwriting.

This is a very motivating and fun way of allowing students to get to grips with the essence of the exam task, and create, with only one text, a far greater number of titles to choose from, and therefore much more practice at discerning plausible from non-plausible titles.

Again, the course content at the TEFL Centre in Málaga includes many of these teaching techniques in its syllabus which enrich the learning experience through student-centred communicative tasks.


Tags: TEFL course malaga, TEFL training, reading skills, story titles
Posted on September 13th, 2017


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