You are here

The Writing Requirement Package | The Reading Requirement Package

> Introduction  

Preparing students to read | Reading tasks

II. Engaging students in reading academic texts of substantial length and academic articles

Preparing students to read

Materials / handouts to facilitate reading

  1. Handouts about the background of the text (Appendix A), such as:
    • setting and cultural background of the text, and
    • biographical information on the author beyond what is included in the text

can be designed to facilitate students' reading.

  1. Glossaries (Appendix B)

A glossary of the reading material(s) highlighting some key words, phrases and concepts can be made.? This will encourage students to stay away from their dictionary, sometimes a source of frustration and unnecessary stress, during the reading process. This may probably enhance the overall reading experience of students.

  1. Anticipation guide in the form of true / false statements

CAR teachers may consider drafting some statements about the text to be read on an anticipation guide sheet (Appendix C) to prepare students for the reading task to be assigned before they actually get down to their own reading.
The statements formulated should be:

    • text-based
    • able to provoke discussion
    • able to activate students' relevant prior knowledge (schema)
Students are asked to indicate whether each of the statements is true or not and should be prepared to justify their responses by referring to the text.? This activity can serve as a lead-in to orient students to the up-coming reading task.


Reading tasks

Reading in layers ACED Learning Review Table
Stimulus questions from
Questions from students Chapter summaries
Reflective writing Out-of-class group
In-class activities



  1. Reading in layers
    • To avoid overloading students with tons of new ideas, new words and new concepts in a rather short period of time (i.e. a week or two), CAR teachers may consider encouraging students to read in layers while reinforcing and building on what they have read during class before asking them to do another layer of reading.? It is like the concept of "building blocks" and these steps could be repeated for several times to further strengthen students' comprehension of the materials.


      • Skimming
        • Have students read the headings, sub-headings, graphics and sub-titles of the reading materials without going deep into the content, and, in the meantime, invite them to anticipate the content of the material by responding to the question, "what do you think the text is about?"
      • Reading for gist
        • Have students read the topic sentence and the last sentence of each paragraph for the gist of the reading materials?
      • Reading intensively
        • Have students read the rest of the materials for a more comprehensive picture


  1. ACED (Analysis, Clarification, Extension, Discussion) practice

Teachers can give out handouts (Appendix D) with some general guiding questions categorized into four realms, namely, Analysis, Clarification, Extension and Discussion (ACED) for students to reflect on what they have read after completing a reading task.


  1. Learning Review Table (Appendix E)

It is a simple tool that can be used to engage students in reviewing their own understanding of the subject matter by actively asking different types of questions which are relevant to the reading text assigned.
The tool involves a three-column table guiding students to work out three main types of questions, they are:

    • questions on things that students can understand from the text / lecture
    • questions on things from the text / lecture that the students do not understand
    • questions on things which are related to the topic, but are not discussed in the text / lecture which the students are interested to know


  1. Stimulus questions from teacher

To stimulate students' thinking about the text / material, teachers may consider posing some questions, which can be of various comprehension levels namely, literal or factual comprehension, inferential comprehension and critical or evaluative comprehension, for students to ponder with an aim to make their reading more purposeful and insightful.


  1. Questions from students

The strategy of questioning can be used to support an internal dialogue among the reader, the author and the text, hence, can keep the readers engaged throughout their reading process, a meaning-constructing process.
A simple three-column reading matrix (Appendix F) highlighting three reading stages namely, before reading, while reading and after reading,? can be created in this regard to guide students through the process of posing meaningful and stimulating questions.
To further empower students with the ability to evaluate and improve their questions so as to maximize their potential gain, the Question-Asking Guide (Appendix G) developed by EDC could be adopted to involve students in evaluating and rewriting their questions until questions of quality and value are generated.? The process itself will cultivate a deeper and more reflective thinking habit in students.


  1. Chapter summaries

Teachers can encourage students to summarize a chapter after reading it.? This is, perhaps, the most straight-forward way to make them read and facilitate their comprehension of the text.? Some frames or handouts could be created to serve this purpose and the design of handouts will depend on the nature and the structure of the text.? For example, a flow chart (Appendix H1) depicting different events in chronological order could be used for a text which includes a series of sequential events, and a story frame (Appendix H2) for a narrative text, so on and so forth.


  1. ?Reflective writing

Keeping reflective journals (Appendix I)
Teachers may ask students to keep a reflective journal.? This will engage students' in interaction with the text and allow unlimited possibilities for learning.? For instance, during the process they may come up with invaluable thoughts and insights regarding the text they are reading, the reading strategies they are employing, et cetera.? Composing reflective journals provides students with a personal and meaningful space to keep a record of their own ideas and thoughts that pop up in the named interaction.? Not only can students reflect on what they have read by doing so regularly, but they can also monitor and evaluate their own learning and all these may give rise to a more fruitful reading experience.

Keeping double-entry journals (Appendix J)
Chapter summaries and reflective journals can be combined to form double-entry journal entries in which students can put down "what I read" and "what I think about what I read" in a row for easy reference.? This format will facilitate students to put down their thoughts one by one in correspondence with the key points covered in the text.


  1. Out-of-class group reading

Teachers can engage students to form reading groups with their classmates to perform some reading tasks outside classroom regularly.? This will provide students opportunities to share what they read and what they think in a less threatening atmosphere.? This practice is highly motivating and promotes an environment of mutual support.

The format of out-of-class discussion should be standard so that students become used to it and gradually become better at expressing themselves.


  1. In-class activities

Small-group sharing
Teachers may ask students to read a text before attending a lecture.? During the lecture, students form small groups and share something with their group members about what they have read.? It may be a summary of the text, a shared experience related to the text, or an application of a concept.? They can also pose questions on what they are not quite sure of for the teachers to follow up afterwards.? This can be done by giving students slips of paper to write questions.? After having the questions back, you can address the questions during the lecture / tutorial.

Posing questions
Teachers may consider posing some questions, which can be of various comprehension levels namely, literal or factual comprehension, inferential comprehension and critical or evaluative comprehension, for students to ponder with an aim to make their reading more purposeful and insightful.

Items b to h in this section can also be used as sources for discussion during lectures to consolidate what has been read by students and to stimulate their thinking.

back top

> Engaging students in reading
> Assessment
> Templates for reading activities

About this website

EWRite is an open access online literacy platform for PolyU community that has two major objectives:

  • to support PolyU students’ literacy development within and across the disciplines
  • to support subject and language teachers to implement system-level measures for integrating literacy-sensitive pedagogies across the university

This platform provides access to generic genre guides representing typical university assignments as well as links to subjects offered by faculties with specific disciplinary genres and relevant support materials.

The materials can be retrieved by students by choosing the genres that interest them on the landing page. Each set of materials includes a genre guide, genre video, and a genre checklist. The genre guide and video are to summarize the genres in two different ways (i.e. textual and dynamic) to fit different learning styles. The genre checklist is for students to self-regulate their writing process. The genre guide and checklist include links to various ELC resources that can provide further explanation to language items (e.g. hedging and academic vocabulary).

The platform also acts as a one-stop-shop for writing resources for students, language teachers and subject leaders. Information about the English Writing Requirement policy can also be found on this platform. There are training materials for new colleagues joining the EWR Liaison Team.