Learning Paths






 Ideas about reading






To investigate students' beliefs about the process of reading


In this activity students clarify and discuss their own beliefs and attitudes about reading and are made aware of how these can influence their approach to tasks. This is also a good opportunity for you to assess your students' present beliefs and make more informed choices about your reading programme.


A task sheet for each student (questionnaire)


Intermediate (but see Preparation below)


Answering and discussing a questionnaire


Before using the questionnaire in class, answer it yourself and, if possible, share your ideas with a colleague. Depending on the level of your class, you may want to simplify the language of the questionnaire or reduce the number of items.


1. Introduce the questionnire by elling the students that people hve different views about reading, and that these views influence the way they actually read. Give one or two examples if appropriate: If you think that all the words in a text are absolutely essential to understand it, you will tend to stop at each word and try to find out its meaning. or If you think that you either know the meaning of a word or can't do anything about it, you will probably look up an unknown word in a dictionary or ask somebody. Stress that there are no right or wrong answers to the questionnaire- the object is just to compare and discuss opinions.

2. Hand out the task sheet and let the students answer the questionnaire individually. Go round and help them with vocabulary if necessary.

3. Ask the students to compare their answers in small groups. For each questionnaire item they should make a note of whether there is basic agreement or disagreement in their group.

4. Conduct a short class discussion. Do not try to change any beliefs, but encourage as many students as possible to express their ideas - remember that attitude change takes time and is achieved mainly through experience and reflection.


If you like, you can collect the completed questionnaires, process them and report the results to the students. Depending on your class, it may be advisable to ask for anonymous answers.


When you do the next reading task with the students, you can remind them of some specific questionnaire item or belief (e.g. about the need to understand every single word) and briefly discuss it in the context of the task on hand.


Below are beliefs that some people have about reading. Read each statement and then decide if you (1) strongly agree, (2) agree, (3) neither agree nor disagree, (4) disagree, (5) strongly disagree. There are no right or wrong answers. We are simply going to compare our opinions.

[ ]  1. Reading is a passive process: a text must be "absorbed" by the reader.

[ ]  2. Reading is mainly a visual activity: our eyes must identify letter by letter, word by word.

[ ]  3. There isn't just one way of reading a text: there are many ways according to the circumstances.

[ ]  4. To decide how to read a text we must check what kind of text it is and why we want to read it.

[ ]  5. Reading efficiently depends mostly on personal abilities which we can't control or improve.

[ ]  6. Comprehension depends on what the reader already knows about the topic.

 [ ]  7. To understand a text you must understand every single word in it.

[ ]  8. If you don't want to lose your concentration, you should start reading a text from the beginning and then carry on, line after line, without stopping until you reach the end.

[ ]  9. It is possible to choose a strategy before reading a text  and use that strategy while you read.

[ ]  10. The only way to find out the meaning of a new word is to look it up in a dictionary or ask somebody.


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