Here are some good reading questions from Carrie Ely, a young French teacher and PhD candidate in New York, that strike at the core of reading in a second language class. I will give some short answers here, but I would be interested in hearing other solutions and expanding on these ideas.
1. What are some interesting activities to do with in-class reading? We spend 1-3 days a week doing reading – novels, stories, etc. What can we do besides straight translation?
• Acting out passages or whole chapters can be fun. Ones with lots of action where the class clown’s energy can be put to use are the best. I wouldn’t overdo it, though. Once, maybe twice per book keeps them wanting more.
• Reader’s theater a la Jason Fritze, where all students have their books in front of them and there are one or two “actors” up in front–which much of the time are mostly props. Sort of a combination of PQA, acting and reading but they are also reading the text as we go along.
• Sometimes I let students read with a partner on the academic novels once they have had a good start and know what is expected of them.
2. How much do you expect the kids to read on their own outside of class? Is there a minimum, etc.?
• In Spanish 1 they are required to read outside of class only when they have missed reading time in class.
• Spanish I and II students can also read outside of class for extra credit points IF they do it in front of a parent and the parent signs off on it. Parents have to sign and say they saw it happen. If parents are in on the cheating we cannot help kids much.