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 9. Teaching ESL/EFL Reading


Course Description

Did you realize that reading is one of the most important skills you can teach? The skill of reading not only gives your students what they need to be successful learners, but it also makes them more self-confident and eager to learn their whole life long. It’s truly at the core of the other language skills—listening, speaking, writing, and grammar. In this course, you’ll learn how to show your students the value of reading to motivate them to become strong readers. 

Together, we’ll explore the core skills of intensive reading. Then we’ll examine extensive reading and how to integrate it into your curriculum. Next, we’ll cover ways to bring vocabulary teaching into your reading classroom. You’ll find out the difference between teaching comprehension and merely testing on it. They’re not the same!

We’ll also look at ways to help your students develop a fluent reading rate and use strategies for reading successfully. And we’ll round out our time together by discussing how to plan effective lessons, design a strong reading curriculum, select appropriate reading materials, and assess students to encourage their growth.


If you would like to pass a passion for reading on to your students, then this is the course for you.

Instructor: Neil J. Anderson

Dr. Neil J Anderson is a Professor of Linguistics and English Language at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. He also serves as the Coordinator of the English Language Center. He teaches courses in the TESOL Master’s program as well as language classes to second language learners. His research interests include second language reading, language learner strategies, and English Language Teaching leadership development. Professor Anderson has taught and presented papers and workshops in over 25 countries. 

He is the author, co-author, or co-editor of over 40 books, book chapters, and professional articles, among them Second Language Reading Research and Instruction: Crossing the Boundaries (2009, The University of Michigan Press), Milestones (2009, Heinle), Exploring Second Language Reading: Issues and Strategies (1999, Heinle), ELT Advantage: Reading (2006, Heinle), ACTIVE Skills for Reading (2007/2008 Heinle), Practical English Language Teaching: Reading (2008, McGraw-Hill), and Second Language Reading Research and Instruction: Crossing the Boundaries (2009, The University of Michigan Press, co-edited with Z.-H. Han). 

Professor Anderson served as President of the international association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. from 2001-2002. During 2002-2003 he was a Fulbright Scholar conducting research and teaching in Costa Rica. He also served on the Board of Trustees for The International Research Foundation for English Language Education from 2004-2008.


Internet access, e-mail, the Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox Web browser, and the Adobe Flash and PDF plug-ins (two free and simple downloads you obtain at by clicking Get Adobe Flash Player and Get Adobe Reader).


A new section of each course starts monthly. If enrolling in a series of two or more courses, please be sure to space the start date for each course at least two months apart.

All courses run for six weeks, with a two-week grace period at the end. Two lessons are released each week for the six-week duration of the course. You do not have to be present when lessons are released. You will have access to all lessons until the course ends. However, the interactive discussion area that accompanies each lesson will automatically close two weeks after the lesson is released. As such, we strongly recommend that you complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.

The final exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the final exam has been released, you will have two weeks to complete all of your course work, including the final exam.     


Week 1

Wednesday – Lesson 01
Just how important is reading in English language learning? I believe it’s the most important skill, and by the end of this lesson, I think you will too! Today you’ll discover how central reading is to all the other language skills: listening, speaking, writing, and grammar. You’ll also explore ways to help your students and administrators become convinced of reading’s value. And you’ll learn about four things you can do to become a more effective reading teacher.

Friday – Lesson 02
How can you help motivate your students to read? This is a challenge for any teacher, but it can be especially tricky for English language teachers. In this lesson, you’ll get some ideas about how you can determine your students’ motivation level. You’ll also explore a model for motivation, and you’ll discover 10 strategies for motivating, engaging, and inspiring your students.

Week 2

Wednesday – Lesson 03
In today’s lesson, you’ll become aware of the key issues that go into first and second language literacy for both children and adults. You’ll learn about the important roles that phonemic awareness and phonics play in a child’s learning. And you’ll discover four vital factors involved in adults learning to read in English. We’ll also explore the bilingual classroom and see its many benefits.

Friday – Lesson 04
Have you ever wanted to spend focused time on certain reading skills with your students? Well, that’s one of the many things intensive reading will allow you to do. Today you’ll learn what intensive reading is and why it’s so important. You’ll also get a list of 29 reading skills you can choose from, as well as add to! And you’ll get to explore several effective ways to teach these skills to your students and help them become strong and independent readers of English.

Week 3 

Wednesday – Lesson 05
Would you like your students to build the habit of reading? To be something they’ll enjoy—for a lifetime? The most effective way you can make reading be its own reward for your students is to teach them extensive reading. In today’s lesson, you’ll discover 10 characteristics of extensive reading, why it’s so valuable, and how you can select appropriate reading materials. You’ll also get some tips for making sure that your students are indeed learning, and you’ll see how you can integrate extensive reading into your overall reading curriculum.

Friday – Lesson 06
Building your students’ vocabulary involves a lot more than teaching them single words. In this lesson, you’ll discover what else goes into it, and you’ll uncover several myths connected with teaching it. I think you’ll find some surprises here! You’ll also understand how helpful high-frequency word lists can be to you, and you’ll get to explore some activities that will spark your own ideas for teaching vocabulary.

Week 4

Wednesday – Lesson 07
Do you realize that we often spend more time testing reading comprehension than on teaching our students how to understand what they’re reading? It’s essential for us to teach our learners how to think like good readers. So in this lesson, you’ll explore four tools for developing your students’ reading comprehension: think-aloud protocols, Questioning the Author (QtA), graphic organizers, and Justify Your Comprehension. It’s all about making thinking visible!

Friday – Lesson 08
What is reading fluency? It’s a combination of both comprehension and reading rate. Too often, we emphasize accuracy at the expense of reading rate. But you know what? The slower our students read, the less they’ll really understand. In today’s lesson, you’ll discover what an optimal reading rate is, and you’ll get the chance to explore three activities that will increase your students’ reading speed and improve their comprehension. The result? More confident, fluent, and engaged readers!

Week 5

Wednesday – Lesson 09
In today’s lesson, you’ll learn the important difference between a reading strategy and a reading skill. You’ll also get seven how-to’s for teaching strategies, including using strategy clusters, strategy surveys, and strategy questions. With these tools at your fingertips, you’ll help your students become more perceptive and successfully readers!

Friday – Lesson 10
You can tie effective teaching directly to the planning and preparation you do. In this lesson, you’ll see why you can’t automatically default to a textbook for your lesson plan. You’ll also discover the seven steps for successful lesson planning, including how to integrate other language skills into a reading lesson and how to create truly helpful objectives. We’ll also explore how to sequence your lesson’s activities and how to know if you and your students have met your objectives. I hope you’ll plan to join us for this lesson!

Week 6

Wednesday – Lesson 11
How can you choose a textbook that will meet your students’ needs and help them meet their goals? That’s what you’ll learn in today’s lesson! You’ll begin by seeing what goes into designing a strong reading curriculum. Then you’ll get 12 criteria for evaluating a textbook—whether you’re selecting it or reviewing it. You’ll also discover how to use a book’s scope and sequence to help your students get familiar with the text they’ll be using. And you’ll come away with new ideas for supplementing your text with real-world resources.

Friday – Lesson 12
In this lesson, we’ll wrap up our course by looking at three different kinds of tests: formative, summative, and standardized. You’ll discover how formative testing, or assessment, lets you give your students ongoing feedback so they can continually improve their performance. Plus, it will help you hone your teaching approach so you can better set your students up for success. You’ll also explore how to write good summative tests, basing them solidly on your course objectives. Finally, you’ll get some ideas for how to help your students prepare for standardized tests, especially the TOEFL and IELTS.

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