After so many months of tech-related posts, it is time for another tech-break! This one is called slash reading, and I am always happy to explain it to people. It even made it into one of the articles I did for TESOL Connections last year, but it is worth going over again in more detail. Slash reading is very straight-forward, and I love it because it has so many possible uses, including working on reading fluency and/or accuracy, and works with almost every age and language level.
To do slash reading, you need nothing more than a reading passage. I often use passages that students have in their textbooks, but sometimes I will print out something new for students to use in class. I usually do a number of activities with the reading material before moving into slash reading as this familiarizes students with the content and allows for time to discuss new vocabulary and check comprehension. Slash reading can take about 5 to 15 minutes depending on what you do with it.
As far as prep goes, this activity could not be much easier. Prior to class, I read through the passage on my own and make forward slashes in my copy of the text where it is natural to pause. If I am using a passage that students do not already have a copy of, I make copies. That is all there is to it.
In class, I introduce slash reading by telling students that I will read the passage aloud and that they should make a slash (/) whenever I pause or take a breath. Depending on the age and level of my students, I may overemphasize these pauses, and I always prompt them to make the first several slashes so that they get the hang of it. I read the material once, maybe twice, and then we are ready for the fun part: reading!
Students are often nervous about reading aloud, but I use slash reading mostly for choral reading. This way, students have heard me read the passage at least once and no one person is singled out to read. With choral reading, everyone, include me, reads together and the slashes in the text help us stay together. With choral reading, you set the pace, which means that you could have students read chorally multiple times with the pace increasing each time. That is a measurable accomplishment that can help motivate reluctant readers. You could move from choral reading to individual reading by having students take turns reading the short sections between the slashes. For the most part, students will not even be responsible for reading whole sentences at this stage; reducing the amount of text they are responsible for also helps ease the pressure of reading aloud. If you want to work on fluency with less focus on accuracy, teams of students can even have slash reading races.
That’s slash reading, and it does so much more than get students to read aloud because it draws attention to where breaks should naturally occur. This is so important because many English language learners tend to take random pauses that break up important chunks of information and make comprehension more difficult. Slash reading is a great little activity to have on hand and, as you can see, there are many possibilities for it.