Two Ways to Practice Reading

4259120807_0673304b76There are two main ways to work on your reading:

  1. Intensive Reading
  2. Extensive Reading

You are probably most familiar with Intensive Reading.

When you read intensively, you’re given a difficult text and work out every detail of it. You look up the words you don’t know. You answer comprehension questions. You feel like a scholar (though often a miserable one).

You usually do this in school.


Extensive Reading is much different.

Actually, some of my students don’t like it because it sounds lazy: have fun reading easy books.

Seriously. It helps. This is supported by research!

When you read extensively, you (the student) choose an interesting text that’s pretty easy for you. On the first page, there shouldn’t be more than 3 or 4 unfamiliar words.

Read it. Enjoy. Repeat.

If you don’t like the book, stop reading it and pick something else.

When you’re finished, choose another book. No questions, no book reports. The idea is to just read a lot of high-interest, low-difficulty English.

You *might* choose to keep a simple list of the titles you’ve read. It could be useful for your teachers to see your interests and progress. It might help you see your own accomplishments, too. Your choice!

Have you been making time for extensive reading? If not, visit your local library and pick out some books! Do it this weekend! Have fun!

Listen to Emily read this post. (a new window will open)

Photo Credit: Indi Samarajiva on Flickr



Writing Prompt Wednesday



Level 1: Write down what you see in each picture. Which one is your favorite place to live?

Level 2: Write 4 sentences describing Picture #1. Write 4 sentences describing Picture #2. Write 2 sentences explaining which one is most similar to your home in your country.

Level 3: Write a paragraph describing Picture #1. Describe what is there, what is probably nearby, and also what is not there. Then do the same for Picture #2. In your third paragraph, tell which picture you would rather live in and why.

Creative Writing: Write three haikus – one about Picture #1, one about Picture #2, and one highlighting how they are similar or different.

Academic Writing: Write a compare and contrast essay between rural life and city life.

Photo Credit 1faungg on Flickr

Photo Credit 2: Aurimas on Flickr


Writing Prompt Wednesday


Level 1: Write down the nouns you see: objects, clothes, etc. Now write down three adjectives to describe what you see.

Level 2: In real life, get three small balls and try to juggle them. How did you do?
Write at least 10 sentences about this experience: Was it hard to find balls to juggle? Did you juggle well? Why or why not? How did you feel? What’s next? What do you think of the man in the picture?

Level 3: Same as Level 2, but write enough details to form at least two paragraphs.

Creative Writing: Write a short story that explains why this man is outside juggling.

Academic Writing: Write a five-paragraph essay explaining three reasons why you are (or are not) interested in juggling. You can do this with no research. One interesting source you could consider using (high reading level, includes math) is The Mathematics of Juggling by Burkard Polster.

Photo CreditAlexandre Dulaunoy on Flickr

Writing Prompt Wednesday


Level 1: What do you see? What colors? What time? This photo was taken in the USA – what month do you think it was?

Level 2: Use the past tense to describe the photographer’s day. Use clues from the photo to guess what the weather was like, what the photographer did, and how the photographer felt. Write at least 5 sentences.

Level 3: Same as level 2, but use modals to express uncertainty. Write enough details to form a well-organized paragraph.

Creative Writing: Write about this snow storm from the point of view of an outdoor cat. What does the cat notice? Do? Feel confused about?

Academic Writing: How do you feel about snow? Write a five-paragraph essay explaining why you would prefer your future home to have more or less snow than your current home. Be sure to tell how much snow you get these days. Give three different reasons you want more or less snow in your future home. Be careful of your verb tenses in this one!

Photo Credit: thelittleone417 on Flickr

Writing Prompt Wednesday


Level 1:  What is this? When is it? Write everything you see.

Level 2: Practice using different verb tenses. Write two sentences about what was happening 15 minutes ago. Write two sentences about what is happening right now. Write two sentences about what is going to happen next.

Level 3: Write about a time you watched or played in a soccer game (or another sport). When was it? Was it formal or informal? Fun or awful? Include at least three interesting details. If you have never ever played a sport, write about why and what you did instead.

Creative Writing: Write from the point of view of the coach of one of these teams. Describe a problem s/he has been working on with the team. Through action (not description), show whether the problem is conquered during the game.

Academic Writing: Write an argumentative essay that asserts that soccer is (or is not) the best sport in the world. You will have to define “best” clearly and use supporting examples. If you research facts, cite your sources! Be sure to include one argument your opponents would make and refute it well.

Photo Credit: Florian Cristoph on Flickr

Writing Prompt Wednesday


Level 1: What do you see? What kind of plants? What colors? What is the person doing?

Level 2: Pretend that you will interview the swimmer in the picture. Write 5 – 7 questions to ask him/her.

Level 3: Write 5-10 sentences about underwater safety. If you need help, search for articles about SCUBA diving.

Creative Writing: Write a short poem (it does not have to rhyme) about this picture. Choose an interesting point of view.

Academic Writing: Research the plant and animal life that lives in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Write an informational essay that tells the reader about three of these life forms. Be sure to indicate why you chose these three. Cite your sources!

Photo Credit: Rafael on Flickr

Writing Prompt Wednesday


Level 1: What do you see? What colors? How many? Where do you think this is?

Level 2: Practice using “have” in two different ways. Use this picture to help you think of two possessive sentences and two Present Perfect sentences.

Level 3: Write a paragraph explaining some pros and cons for owning a boat. Make sure you also share your own opinion.

Creative Writing: Write a short story that begins on these docks. In telling your story, focus on the five senses: what do your characters see, hear, smell, touch, and feel?

Academic Writing: Write an informational essay about the costs and benefits of owning a boat. If you need to do research, be sure to cite your sources!


Photo Credit: Broo_am (Andy B) on Flickr