Classroom Activities For IELTS Reading

Alex Case
Easier, more fun, more challenging and more useful classroom tasks for IELTS Reading.

It is notoriously difficult to do reading well in class, as it can be silent and time-consuming while seeming to add little to what students could be doing at home. This article aims to give some useful and fun classroom activities for IELTS Reading, focussing on ones that can be used for any kind of task.

Easier Tasks

  • Give students the right answers, and ask them to find the places in the text where the information is and underline the important sentences or words.
  • Give the text with the important information underlined and ask them to do the tasks by only looking at those bits.
  • Give them the text with the important information underlined and the questions mixed up. They match the questions to the underlined sections in the text and then answer them.
  • Give them the text(s) but no questions. Allow them to go home and read it as many times as they like with their dictionaries, but not write on the text. They then do the questions when they come into class.
  • Give them fewer options, or options in tasks where they usually only have a gap.
  • Give them the task with the answers filled in. Their task is to find the two or three questions that you have deliberately put the wrong answers in.

More Fun Tasks

  • Give matching tasks (e.g. adding headings to paragraphs) with the texts cut up so they can shuffle them around on the table.
  • Give them one question at a time and ask them to shout out whenever they think they have found the right answer. They get one point for being first with the right answer and lose two points if they are wrong.
  • Give them one question and ask them to raise their hands when they think they have underlined the right part of the text and answered the question. When they all have their hands up, ask them the answer in the same order as they raised their hands. The first person to ask correctly gets the point.
  • Put the text up the board, e.g. with a hugely blown up photocopy or by using an OHP, and ask two students to race to underline the part of the text that has the answer to the question you give them.
  • Do IELTS-style tasks with more interesting texts that they can discuss before and/ or after, e.g. a recent news story
  • Put a pile of IELTS (or IELTS-style) questions cut up in the middle of the table. You might want to add more than there usually are in the test by writing some of your own. Students can choose any question they like and then must try to answer it as quickly as they can so that they can take another question and do the same again. They can abandon a question any time they like and put it back in the pile, but they can’t keep a blank one if they want to move on to another and they can’t change their answers later. If you want to give points, it could be one point for a correct answer but minus two for a wrong one.

More Useful Tasks

  • Ask them to predict which things in the questions will be easiest to scan for and then time them as they look for and underline the answer to each one
  • Give them texts that you have written on the topic of IELTS exam tactics to discuss before and after they do the exam tasks that you have written for them
  • Give the texts with the questions cut off and all question numbers removed. Students match the questions to the texts before they try the tasks. This is good for skim reading.
  • Give them a text with all the answers wrong for different reasons, e.g. because they haven’t followed the instructions, have used the one which is an example, or have looked at the wrong part of the text. They have to explain why those answers are wrong and then choose the right answer. This is good for spotting trick questions and avoiding common mistakes.

More Challenging Tasks

  • Students write questions for each other in one of the exam formats. You can give them some help with this, e.g. giving them a summary from which they can decide which words they will take out to make a text completion task.
  • Students do the question with less help than the actual task would give them, e.g. text completion without the mixed up missing words or adding paragraph headings just from their own ideas. You then give them the original questions.
Written by Alex Case for EnglishClub
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic blog.