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A reading for specific information activity

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Instructions for teachers

An ant

As any TEFL theory book will tell you. We need to help the students develop the many different reading skills and strategies such as gist reading, reading to confirm expectations, reading for communicative tasks etc. This is an example of scan reading or reading to extract specific information. In the real world you would do this to find a number in a telephone book or find out how deep the swimming pool is in a holiday brochure, what is on at the cinema etc. This text will hopefully give some practice in this type of reading. Go to student text

Suggested Procedure:

1. Spend 5 minutes pre-teaching some of the difficult vocabulary. eg jaw, brain, squeeze, share, rubbish, smell, chew, swallow etc.

2. Hand out a photocopy of the text to all the students. Let them read it for 3 or 4 minutes or if you really want to develop scan reading don't let them read it at all.

3. It is best to use the cheap trick of having a competition to add some motivation. Divide the class into two teams. You ask questions on the text and the team who answer your questions correctly first get a point. Ask the questions from various parts of the text don't start at the top and go down.

Here are some ready made questions:

How many known species of ants are there? 10 000 (3)
How do ants tell other ants where the food is? By leaving a trail of scent. (6)
How long do ants live? 45-60 days (1)
What is the latin name of the slave maker ant (Polyergus Rufescens) (5)
How do ants know if another ant comes from the same nest? (because of the smell) (4)
What is the name of the outer covering of an ant's body? (the exoskeleton) (3)
How do the red ant species protect their nest? (with a sting) (4)
What are four stages of an ant's life? egg, larva, pupa and adult (3)
Why do some birds put ants in their feathers? (to kill the parasites) (5)
Where does the Ecitron Burchelli ant live? (South America) (6)
How many stomachs do ants have? (two) (3)
How many legs do ants have? (six) (1)
How many joints in each leg? (three) (1)
What do ants do with the eggs at night? (put them deeper into the nest) (6)
What kind of acid do ants spray? (formic) (5)
Which type of ant steals eggs from other nests? (Slave Maker) (5)
If an ant weighs 1 gram how much can it lift (20 Grams) (1)

That should be enough.

More suggestions:

If this activity was a success there are other ways you can practice reading for specific information.
It is a good idea to find texts that the students might really have to read.

e.g.. Photocopy the accommodation flats for rent section from a newspaper and ask questions like how much is the bedsit in Acacia Avenue. Other sources could be :- Job adverts, brochures, TV and entertainment etc.


Go to student text

Other interesting facts pages: Ants The Moon Horses