Prereading Stage: Everything You Need to Know

This is the initial stage of reading involving skimming through or scanning written materials and looking through information, including summaries, titles, illustrations, headings, and sentences of topics, in a bid to work on schema and enhance the grasping of read content.

The objective of this stage is to get students ready for reading a text, either by being aware of the topic, its genre, or relevant language. Teachers can use various ways to achieve this objective. For instance, they can pre-teach their students’ vocabulary necessary for understanding the text. They may even activate students’ background knowledge or schemata of the topic through elicitation, picture exploitation, etc. Other ways teachers can consider are addressing the students’ information gap or letting them engage in the topic via meaningful interactions like discussions and persuading them to make predictions about the text or its context.

A successful pre-reading stage typically consists of one or more of the features below:

  •         Engages students in the topic and triggers curiosity about the text
  •         Helps focus the students’ interest and attention on characteristics of the particular text (such as what they would anticipate seeing in a newspaper article related to climate change) rather than the broad topic (like what climate change is)
  •         Encourages and creates opportunities for student-to-student interaction instead of relying only on interactions between the teacher and the entire class
  •         Lets students learn or recall vocabulary that appears in the written text
  •         Increases awareness about the genre’s characteristics

Teachers looking for pre-reading stage activities can find many in several modern course books, including questions for group discussion, exercises that teach new words, or pictures to be exploited. Several teachers’ books too often include procedures teachers could use at the pre-reading stage.

Teachers who prefer to use authentic texts or create their own pre-reading activities may use the following steps:

  •         Read the text themselves and observe its characteristics (purpose, genre, targeted audience, level of formality, etc.)
  •         Consider the background knowledge their students possess on the topic or genre
  •         Foresee difficulties students may face when dealing with the text (difficult words, inadequate knowledge about the topic, speed of delivery, etc.)
  •         Create activities or questions that may help students discuss what they already know about the topic, predict probable text contents, or reduce problems the teachers have anticipated

Teachers can help students take ownership of their reading with pre-reading strategies, thus setting the foundation for their independent reading success!

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