Catering for early finishers: readings

Published on 25th January, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

Inevitably students read at different speeds, and some students are left twiddling their thumbs as they wait for their peers to finish. I usually have one or two generic reading tasks up my sleeve to give to those who finish before the majority. Most of these are adaptable for use with any level, from elementary upwards:

– Students devise two extra questions about the text. Tell them that they will able to ask the others at the end.
– Students think of a better or optional heading for the text.
– Students do a collocation hunt and write up 3-5 very useful collocations on the board for the class ( they should check them with you first).
– Students work on four words that you select from the text and work on the word family, e.g. choose adjectives in the text and they make the nouns, using a dictionary to check.
– Students work out the meaning of two or three lexical items that you select from the text, using the context. They then check their predictions in a dictionary.
– Students write a summary of the text in less than 30 words.
– Students write a question or two to the writer of the text, to find out more information, if the text is appropriate.


  • I would add another teaching tip to the many good ones you have offered us. Ask them to underline 3,4 words they like or dislike saying why (sound,form, meaning…?). Thank you for all the interesting material that gives us a lot of wonderful ideas for our lessons!

    Angela Cavallo on 30 January, 2010
  • Really great tips!

    Joel Buxton on 16 February, 2010