Skills related tasks: gist reading (Shopping)

The topic shopping may be appropriate for an open group of pre-intermediate teen-age learners with mixed or similar abilities. Shopping, especially under parents’ supervision, might arouse students’ curiosity and activate their schemata, something they have already experienced. Definitely, this topic may help them understand the meaning of the whole text at the stage of gist reading, do comprehension tasks at the stage of close reading and get motivated at later stages for developing productive skills. The text and the topic may work well even if the learners and the writer don’t share common presuppositions. If the students were brought up in the same society and have similar cultural backgrounds, the difference in opinions may maintain their general interest to the topic.

The lead-in stage will be a combination of an open class activity and a discussion in pairs. First, I’ll demonstrate an image on the whiteboard, asking to thought shower what the students think about shopping for clothes. I’ll elicit some opinions (words or short phrases) on the topic.

  • Where do people buy clothes?

  • Is it easy to decide on what to buy? Why?

Then I’ll ask the students to work in pairs and tell each other what clothes they like buying and if it is easy for them.

The first activity will activate prior knowledge about the topic (“clothes”/”shopping” vocabulary) and the second activity will provide spoken fluency practice, using pre-taught vocabulary.

  • I’d love to pre-teach the vocabulary when doing the first part of the lead-in stage, while I am eliciting some words and phrases about shopping for clothes. The students may not know some key words (changing room, try on, fit), so I am going to write the key words on the board, explaining their meaning in the context, miming or with the help of CCQs.

When doing the second activity (discussion in pairs), I’ll ask the students to use the words (changing room, try on, fit) in their stories answering the question:What clothes do you like buying? Is it easy to choose what you want?

  • Before reading for gist I’ll show the students the title of the text “Shopping with mother” and ask them to guess something about what they are going to read.

Read the title of the text and guess what the story is about.

This predicting activity will help the learners understand what the writer will say, especially if they share common presuppositions. It may resolve certain difficulties and help with better comprehension of the whole text. It’s an open class or a pair activity.

The gist task is the following:Read the text quickly and find out if shopping with mother is pleasant or not. Tick some words or phrases to prove your answer.

The sub-skill the students will use here is skim reading, in order to obtain the gist (finding key points). It is a part of top- down processing and it focuses on understanding the meaning of the whole text. The students may guess the meaning of unknown words from overall context. I’ll try to limit the use of dictionaries at this stage.

At the stage of feedback, I’ll ask the students to answer the gist questions using some ideas from the text.

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