Four Objectives of Reading in the ESL Classroom

A general English language program should focus on the four basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening in addition to providing instruction in grammar and vocabulary. How this is done varies from school to school, resulting in different levels of integration. Sometimes a single textbook is used because each chapter addresses multiple skills. Other times a separate book is used for each skill area. Whatever the material is, the main objectives for reading remain the same:

  • Read to activate and reinforce other skills (grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and writing). In the same way that oral dialogues, short compositions, and listening activities do, reading can put into practice grammatical structures, new lexical items, and elements of pronunciation. Reading can also offer good writing models.
  • Reading to become a better reader. Reading is a skill in itself, and the advantage of working with adult language learners is that they are usually literate in their native language. This means that they are able to transfer advanced reading skills to the second language classroom.  Reading in English can activate and develop these skills, making the students better readers in both languages. Reading skills include: skimming, scanning, predicting, and reading for detailed comprehension.
  • Read to develop critical thinking skills. This is important to address because when teaching English for general purposes, it can be easy to dismiss reading as an activity more suited for an academic environment. In all situations, critical thinking skills aid communication. From having a phone conversation to writing a business plan, people need to prioritize, make conclusions, draw comparisons, make inferences, etc. Reading can provide opportunities to utilize and sharpen such skills.
  • Read for enjoyment.  Students should ideally discover not only the usefulness but also the pleasure of being able to read in a second language.

If these are the objectives of reading with English language learners, then what are the possible formats to do the reading? I’ll answer this question in my next posting.


25 Comments Add yours

  1. Noemi S. Canlas says:

    you have been very helpful.. thanks a lot!!!

  2. NISAHNT KUMAR says:

    good tech to learn englis.

  3. Sheena Adams says:

    thanks much that’s quite inspiring. Please facilitate reading games and activities in your next posting. thanks again

  4. englishwithjennifer says:

    I’ll try to think of more reading activities. Have you looked at the postings from Oct. 13, 2009 (Mix and Match) and March 18, 2009 (Many Magazines, Many Benefits)? One of those games might work for your students. Is there a specific skill you’d like to target?

  5. Wondwossen Feleke says:

    Dear Madam,
    I dont have comments but thanks.
    I would like to say thanks for your relentless effort for teachers that you have produced some important points on reading skill. Let me say God Bless you!!

    Next, I am preparing my proposal for MA In TOFEL At Haramaya University Ethiopia. I have got some imoportant points on reading skill. I hope you will add some important points on reading skill.

    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      Thank you for your kind support. Perhaps if you would pose a question or two, I could offer my thoughts in a blog post. What will your work focus on exactly?

  6. Kwaku Boaten says:

    Informed by both my experiences as a user of English as a Second Language and as a teacher of the subject, I’ve come round to the belief that one way of promoting reading in English for pleasure with ESL learners, especially among the reluctant, is by relating, as far as possible, some of their reading activities to their areas of interest e.g. Music, Dance, Sports, Art, to name only a few. So, with this in mind, and now with advances in technology, I’ve managed to develop an online game ( that is designed to stimulate users to practise reading in English while also having fun. In this way users additionally learn to read for pleasure without realizing they’re learning at the same time. The game is still evolving, but I wonder if you, or any of your readers and colleagues, could kindly review it even as it develops.

    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      Hello Kwaku,
      I appreciate your approach, and I think more attention to forms of edutainment need to be explored by our profession. Learning should be enjoyable, and if your resource both engages the user and facilitates the language learning process, then more power to you! I wasn’t able to test out some games because they were under construction. I look forward to seeing your site develop.
      Best wishes to you,

  7. collins agyei junior says:

    thanks for your help

  8. You’ve been extremely helpful! Thanks!

    1. My pleasure. Thank you for dropping by, Isaac.

  9. Aziz Swati says:

    The four objectives you have mentioned are the main objectives and we, being professional, keep them in mind before teaching reading comprehension

    1. I am happy you agree. Thank you for reading this post, Aziz. Regards!

  10. Abk says:

    Very interesting and helpfull thanks alot.

    1. You’re welcome. Thank you for stopping by.

  11. fortunate says:

    all ages must read at least 30 minutes per day.

    1. Reading is a wonderful activity, isn’t it? There are so many benefits. In my children’s school system, they start with a 15-minute requirement. Around 2nd or 3rd grade it becomes 20 minutes a day of extended reading. Of course, there is also reading involved in other homework assignments, but I like the emphasis on extended reading. For adults, we need to remember to balance all the video with good old-fashioned reading. 🙂

  12. auhshop says:

    Hello Jennifer,
    U hv gvn good objectives for reading. Needed make lesson plan. Very helpful points. Thanks. I m also an avid reader. And your last objective – Read for enjoyment. Thn all else wl b very easy. Thanks once again

    1. Hello and thank you for stopping by. Kind regards!

  13. I learn very critical things from these four objective .Thank you for writing this types of interesting things in google.Thank you very much!

    1. You’re welcome. Thanks for reading the post.

  14. Jaydev Suthar says:

    Dear Jennifer, what is full name? How can i used this for my reference list in an assignment?

    1. My full name is Jennifer Lebedev.

  15. Morish canwat says:

    I like your post a lot. It has helped me to finish my homework

    1. I’m glad the info was useful. 🙂

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