13 Activities To Improve ESL Reading Comprehension

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The purpose of ESL reading comprehension games is to improve the cognitive abilities of your students. When reading, they interpret the meaning of individual words and thus learn how the sentences are formed. Besides, reading comprehension activities can also improve the writing skills, as a good reader is usually a good writer as well.

In this article, we are going to talk about various fun reading activities for an ESL classroom, so both classroom and online English teachers can learn new ways to engage with their students.

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ESL Reading Comprehension Activities

ESL Reading Puzzle

reading comprehension games

For this comprehension activity, you will need two jigsaw puzzles consisting of around 20 pieces each. You will need only the backs of those puzzles to write one word of a small story per each piece. However, you can try and search for blank puzzles, or create your own puzzle – whatever suits you best. Mix up the pieces of one of the puzzles and tell the students to assemble the story and then read it aloud. Use the second puzzle as an example of the correct story.

Rhyming Riddles

Prepare a worksheet with riddles that the students should read in order to figure out the mystery word. The clues include words that rhyme with the mystery word.

Scrambled Sentences

Write or print a text or a dialogue on a paper and then cut it into strips with one sentence per strip. Ask the students to assemble the sentences into coherent text or dialogue. For this reading comprehension activity, students can work in teams and the winning team should be the first to put the sentences together. To make the task more difficult, cut out words instead of sentences.

Filling in the Gaps

Ask students to fill in the gaps in a text with a word that passes best. You can suggest the three variants of words, whereas advanced students can come up with a missing word themselves, or even fill in the entire missing sentences.

Text Related Questions

In this reading comprehension activity, the students should read the text and answer the multiple choice or true/false questions that are related to this text. Please note that the correct option should not be very obvious.

Book Discussion

reading comprehension activities

Assign your students a book that they should read at home and then discuss the chapters during the class. The difficulty level of the book should correspond with the level of your students.

Proverbs and Idioms

Study the English proverbs and idioms together with your students and encourage them to find the matching proverbs and idioms in their mother tongue. If a proverb or idiom has the same meaning in the student’s mother tongue but is explained by different words, encourage this student to translate this proverb or idiom into English. This activity will go a long way with reading comprehension.

Matching Comprehension Activities

Give your students a set of book descriptions accompanied by short biographies of fictional characters with a focus on their reading tastes. The task of the students is to match the readers with the books that would fit them best. Some books have similar topics, so the students have to read all descriptions very carefully in order not to be misled. For example, a person enjoys cooking and would like to buy a cookbook, but not a fiction book about cooking. You can replace the book descriptions with music albums, concerts, job descriptions – whatever you find useful for your students – and adjust the characters’ bios accordingly. You can also match the job descriptions to jobs, headings to text, or use something else for this matching reading ESL activity.

Closest Meaning

Give your students a set of sentences and ask them to identify a sentence that is closest in meaning to the “main” sentence.

Irrelevant Sentences

Give your students several texts where one sentence is irrelevant and encourage them to identify this sentence. The students can work in teams, and the winning team should identify all irrelevant sentences earlier than other teams.

Dialogue Completion

During this ESL reading comprehension activity, you should ask your students to fill in the gaps in dialogues with the most suitable phrases.

Spelling Mistakes

Advanced students can try to identify the misspelled words in ESL readings.

Text Genre Identification

During this ESL reading activity, you should give your students several texts of different genres and encourage them to guess the genre.

In addition to reading skills themselves, such classroom reading games help the learners build up the following skills:

  • sequencing
  • summarizing
  • comparing
  • drawing conclusions
  • solving problems
  • finding the main idea, important facts, and supporting details

We hope that you will be actively using or are already using these ESOL reading exercises so that your students improve their reading skills.

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