Saturday, 12 February 2011

Preparing ESOL Students for their E2 Reading Exam

The exam is next week so I wanted to coach the students in some of the techniques needed to find answers in the text.

I decided to write an exam paper that would really challenge their ability to deduce words they didn't know.

I wasn't sure how students would take it.

Here's the document:

Emma likes Ati

Differentiation was used with fewer 'made-up words' for lower levels. I also made the words easier to guess by asking students questions about those words;

"Where would you find a KW?"
"Look at the verb in Line 1."
"What nouns can you use with that verb?"
I found that soon students understood the task and a great amount of learning took place as students analysed the lexis.

For homework I asked students to write about a process and then change some words for made-up words or words in their first language. The next lesson students tried to guess what the processes were.

Students have also accessed past papers via moodle. They have done this in their free time under 'honesty exam conditions'. I explained that the only people they were cheating were themselves.

I have had a lot of marking as a consequence but have been able to pinpoint students "weaker" skills, i.e. alphabetical order in Task 3 or finding keywords in a text in Task 1.

Forms and tables have their own challenges as cultural familiarity and general lexical knowledge needs to be pre-taught. An example of this is how British names are not instantly recognised as people's names because they are unfamiliar.

I think the reading exam presents a number of challenges to an ESOL learner but once given techniques to answer questions they can certainly achieve good marks.


  1. Write what you think those strange words might be in the mobile phone on the right of this page. Click add and then enter the word with a definition. You can even add a picture!

  2. I love this resource... and I love the idea behind it as well... hmmmm wondering how to adapt it for higher level exam prep. Understanding words from context is something my learners always struggle with. Thanks for sharing :-)


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