ESL Reading Comprehension Exercises

Instructor: Jesse Richter

Jesse holds two masters, a doctorate and has 15 years of academic experience in areas of education, linguistics, business and science across five continents.

Here is a quick list of fun activities to increase reading comprehension for K-12 students who are learning English as a second language (ESL)! These may be modified according to age and English language ability level.

Increase Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension is critical for learners of English as a second language (ESL). However, it's often challenging to find readily available, easy-to-use activities to increase reading comprehension. In this lesson, we'll explore a variety of activities for this specific language skill.

Identify the Genre

For this activity, collect a variety of texts from different genres. The text can be any written document in either print or electronic form. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, drama, news articles, documentaries, opinion articles, poetry, instructions, or even recipes. More broadly speaking, articles may be classified as descriptive, narrative, expository or persuasive.

Here are the steps:

  1. Pre-teach the students about the different types of texts. This may be in the form of an entire lesson or unit depending upon the age and ESL ability levels of the students.
  2. Collect several different types of texts. This will guide what happens in the next steps.
  3. Remove any information from your samples that may indicate the type of text.
  4. Distribute the texts to students and instruct them to identify the type. Students may work in pairs or small groups to encourage teamwork and idea sharing.
  5. Optional: Setting a time limit may help to facilitate the lesson.
  6. Have the students cross-check with other pairs and/or small groups for preliminary discussion.
  7. Formally review and debrief the results.

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