ESL Reading Activities

ESL Reading Activities


In this section, you will be presented with something that will help you understand the context of the article and develop an interest in the content, for example, a thought provoking question relating to the main idea of the article. Two fundamental strategies of being an effective reader are: first, understand the general context BEFORE you start to read (e.g. by looking at the title, pictures etc.), and secondly, to become interested in the content.  

Key Vocabulary: 

This section focuses on important words that are found in the article.

Purpose: Knowing these words BEFORE you read will help you comprehend and read with an uninterrupted flow.  

Main Idea Question: 

The main idea question is presented BEFORE you read in order to give you a purpose for reading the article. The main idea question is related to the general idea of the article. To answer the question, you should skim the article (or read the article quickly) without stopping to look up the meaning of words.

Purpose: It is a good reading strategy to first read a text for the main idea in an uninterrupted flow (without stopping). If you want to understand the text in greater detail, you should return to it a second time to analyze it further.  

Read the Article

In this part, you will read the article. Remember to follow the below-mentioned reading strategies while reading:

Reading Strategies:

  • Skim (read quickly) the entire article for the main idea before reading for detail: Read the article quickly to get the main idea of the entire article before answering the following detail questions.
  • Do not stop for words you do not know: As you read, do not stop for words you do not know. Underline or note the word or phrase, guess its meaning from context, and then move on. If you think it is a useful word or phrase, come back to it later and look up the meaning.
  • Write 1-3 words summarizing the main idea of each paragraph as you read: As you read (not afterward) write down a note (around 1-3 words) for each paragraph you read summarizing its main idea. After you read for the main idea, when you read for the second time, the notes will help you answer the detail questions (by enabling you to locate information). 

Detail Questions:

In this section, you will return to the article a second time to read for further detail. You should scan or look through the article quickly for the specific information needed to answer the questions. Remember the following:

  • The detail questions are in chronological order (in order from the beginning to the end of the article)
  • To make this part easier, it is best to write a summary note of each paragraph during the 1st time you read the article during the previous step (to help you find the information).

Purpose: The purpose of this part is to help you understand the article in greater detail. Most of the questions are about key parts of the article or parts that might be difficult to understand without closer analysis.

Writing Response:

In this section, you are given prompts (or points) to help you write a response to the article. These prompts will generally be questions to help you reflect on the article. In order to improve your writing ability, I suggest that you write in essay format. However, you can also write a simpler version of the response in the comments section. The below guidelines will help you in the essay writing process:

Writing Strategies:

  • Make a quick outline: first, you can use different strategies to brainstorm. Then, clearly state your opinion/argument/main idea of your essay with a declarative statement. From there, make an outline of the main ideas of each paragraph of your essay (the intro, body, and conclusion paragraphs).
  • Write the intro: include a hook (an interesting introductory sentence to capture the reader’s attention), some supporting info, and a thesis statement (stating your opinion/argument).
  • Write body paragraphs: remember to include a topical sentence (stating the main idea of the paragraph) as well as a transitional sentence (one that will transition well to the next paragraph).
  • Conclusion: here you want to summarize your opinion/argument/main idea of the essay, and end strongly with a concluding statement.

Purpose: To give you practice writing a coherent (or logical) and cohesive (or well organized) response. 

Reading Activities:


Cause of Addiction: What do you think the cause of addiction is? 


What Really Makes Us Fat? 


Vegan Moral Dilemma


Color Additives