Summary: Ideas for teaching the IELTS Academic Reading Paper
Description of the task
In this task type students have to find which of the paragraphs in the text has information meaning the same as a given sentence, e.g. if Question 1 says “Bullets are becoming more dangerous all the time” and paragraph C has a sentence that says “The deadliness of bullets is rising” then the first answer is 1. C.
This task is always combined with one or two different tasks that involve reading the same text in more detail, e.g. True/ False/ Not Given or gap filling tasks.
Although there can be tricky questions, this is generally one of the easier tasks in the reading test and particularly good practice for skimming and scanning reading skills. Things that can catch students out include the information in the paragraph being split up in two or (very occasionally) more different sentences, and the vocabulary and grammatical structures being different in the question and in the text.
An easy start
- Tell students which paragraph each question is in and just get them to underline the relevant part of the paragraph
- Give the text out with the information that matches the exam questions already underlined and get the students to use that to match the questions to the paragraphs
- Rather than questions, just give them words they have to find other forms of, e.g. “Find the noun of ‘decide’”
- Start with questions that have answers that are particularly easy to find in the text, e.g. numbers, capital letters, long words, unusual punctuation (e.g. acute accents).
- In a word-processing program, add the sentences that are the answers to the questions into an entirely different text, e.g. a letter home to your mother. Get the students to pick out the sentences that don’t match the text, then give them the exam task to match those sentences to the exam questions and so check their answers.
- Students search through a whole book, newspaper or magazine for the answers. This is particularly fun if you give them several publications and they have to try and guess which one it will be in to speed up their search, e.g. Will a financial story be in The Economist or in The National Enquirer?
- Students chose just one of the exam questions by how easy they think it will be to find the answer, then stick up their hands when they think they have finished. The teacher then times until the last team has finished and gives points based on the number of seconds difference between the first correct team and the last to finish.
The next step
- The task which is most similar to this is the “Paragraph headings” task, so it might be worth doing that next with students who are still struggling with this task. The next step up is the True/ False/ Not Given tasks, as there students also try to find particular information in the text, and then check if it is exactly what is said in the question. Moving onto the T/ F/ NG task could be done as an extension of one of the games above, e.g. searching through newspapers.
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