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August 2020 - Year 22 - Issue 4

ISSN 1755-9715

A Private Reading Lesson: A Story with Cia

Sandi Ferdiansyah is a language instructor at English Education Department of IAIN Jember. His academic interests include teaching methodology, technology in language learning, and teacher professional development.



Let me introduce you to Cia (*pseudonym), my former student.  She took English private lessons in which I became her private tutor. We met twice per week; each meeting lasted for 90 minutes. In this paper, I would like to share some 90-minute teaching reading activities that I did with Cia that hopefully will inspire other (private) tutors.


Lesson outline

Stage #1: Pre-Reading

In the beginning of each meeting, I always asked Cia to share some things related to her. She usually talked about her activities at school or her weekend activities. I also encouraged her to practice questioning, exercising her ability to ask questions and engage in the conversation. This so-called warming up activity lasted for about 10 minutes.


Stage #2: Whilst Reading

This stage lasted for an hour and consisted of some reading activities. For the reading text, I would ask Cia to read one or two chapters taken from a graded reading book. The book that she read was suitable for her level in terms of topic familiarity and lexico-grammar level so hopefully it would motivate her to read more and build her reading literacy.   

Before reading, to make sure that she had some background knowledge, I asked Cia some questions related to the topic or the theme of the story. Then, I asked her to read one or two chapters, approximately 750 to 1,000 words. Two-time reading was enacted to help her completely understand what the chapter was about. Reading aloud was required so she would practice her pronunciation. Talking dictionary was used to consult when she did not know how to pronounce a particular word.  A small talk about the chapters would be done after the reading. Generic questions such as ‘what is the story about?’ were delivered to find out how much Cia understood the story.

I continued the activity by requesting Cia to jot down 10 words taken from the reading text that she was unfamiliar with. To find out the meaning of the unfamiliar words, she was given access to online dictionary. She then wrote the meaning of the new vocabulary and together with me, we tried to create another new sentence using this particular new vocabulary. Such activity helped her to understand the meaning of new words and how to use them.

The next activity was more into checking Cia’s reading comprehension. True/False, multiple choice, or open ended questions were given to assess whether she really understood the details of the chapters that she read. 

I also asked my former student Cia to summarize the chapters that she read.  To begin with, she drew mind-map that helped her with story development. She loved this activity because she felt she would express her ideas better in writing. Different from speaking which she thought more spontaneous, writing allowed her to think of ideas she wanted to convey. She also stated that writing helped her build confidence.


Stage #3: Post Reading

In this stage, I asked her to perform a brief oral storytelling. She was asked to draw pictures that showed the sequence of the story; then she would deliver her story orally. I believed the visual would help her remember the details and the flow of the story. This stage would last for about 20 minutes.



My teaching experience shows me that a language learner should be given opportunities to complete various tasks that will help them get exposed to the language input and provide chances to communicate with others. Encouragement is also needed; and this can be done in various ways such as through constructive feedbacks and praises. Multiple learning sources such as texts, images, and online dictionary are also essential to keep the student’s level of engagement in learning English. I hope that my sharing here would inspire other teachers.


Please check the Methodology and Language for Secondary course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Teaching Advanced Students course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the How to Motivate Your Students course at Pilgrims website.

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