Pre-reading activities help students prepare for the reading activity by activating the relevant schemata, and motivating them to read. Pre-reading activities can also help learners anticipate the topic, vocabulary and possibly important grammar structures in the texts. Here are some activities for you to think about.
#1 Discussion: Create a discussion about the topic. Teacher prepares 4 sentences expressing opinions about the topic, then sticks them in 4 corners of the classroom. Students go and stand near the opinion they disagree with the most. The group explains why the disagree about the topic.
#2 I’m listening to You: Ask students to work in pairs. Challenge them to talk in English for 1 minute about a topic. Repeat with a new topic, students change roles.
#3 Quotations: Find a quotation about the topic, students discuss the quotation. What does it mean? Do they agree with it? Why/Why not.
#4 Guessing from Words: Before students look at the text they are going to read, the teacher writes 5 or 6 words from the text on the board and asks the students to guess the topic.
#5 Guessing from Pictures: The teacher finds 3 pictures or objects which are connected to the story and ask the students to guess how they are connected. Students read the text to check.
#6 Pictionary: Select some of the key words from the text. Put the class into two or three groups. In turn, a learner from each group (at the same time) comes to the whiteboard. They are told the word and they have to draw that word. They are not allowed to use letters or numbers in their drawing. The other students try to guess the word and earn points for their team. This can get very lively indeed!
#7 Guessing from sentences: The teacher dictates 3 sentences from the passage. Students write them down and check with a friend. The sentences go on the board if necessary as a final check. Then the teacher asks how these sentences might be connected. What is the text about? Students predict then read the text quickly to check their predictions.
#8 How many words do you know? The teacher prepares the board by writing the letters of the alphabet in 3 or 4 columns. The students form two lines standing behind each other (so in a class of 30, there will be 15 and 15.) You can use half of the class if you prefer but do tell the students that the other half of the class will do this activity the next day. Use 2 colored markers so you know which team wrote what. The first student at the front of each team gets the board marker. The teacher gives a topic to the class. The 2 students move to the board and write one word related to the topic on the board next to the letter it begins with, then pass the marker/chalk to the next students in their team and go to the back of the queue. The 2 teams compete to write as many words as possible on the board in 3 minutes. The team with the largest number of appropriate and correctly spelled answers wins!
#9 Speed chatting: Prepare one or two simple questions related to the topic of the reading. Ask the class to make two rows facing each other. Then, encourage your learners to ask each other the questions, but warn them that they only have 60 seconds to do so. Once the 60 seconds are up, one of the rows rotates so each learner has a new partner. Repeat the process several times.
#10 Videos: There is so much good free content available these days. First, find a short video relating to the topic of the reading. I would suggest something around three minutes long. After watching the video yourself, prepare some simple discussion questions. Play the video and then ask the students to talk with a partner about what they saw.