How to get your students reading – and enjoying it!

Charlie Ellis

Why is reading so important?

Studies have shown that students who read extensively for their own enjoyment both in and out of the class not only have higher vocabulary and fluency but do better in all subjects against national standards.

Reading extensively offers an antidote to small granular bits of information that are so prevalent in social media

Creating a reading habit early on can open up a world of enjoyment for your students for life.

- Make sure there is a variety of titles and genres on offer. Don’t forget that non-fiction and informational titles might appeal to some sections of your students. Whatever students are reading – whether it’s a magazine or an instruction manual or a comic – if they want to read it – then it is a good thing!

- Give students the freedom to choose what they read – if they read something that they’ve chosen they are more likely to enjoy it. Why not make a small library for your class (or organise a class visit to the school library) and encourage them to pick a title to read a week?

- If you are reading something as a class - always make sure what they are reading is well within they’re language level. Stopping to check vocabulary can interrupt the flow of reading and the enjoyment of the story.

- Try to allocate at least 10mins a week to reading (20mins is even better!) for:

  • quiet independent reading time
  • Reading aloud to the class
  • Running a weekly book club
  • Getting the students to say a few words about the book they have read that week – recap the story, if they liked it and if they would recommend it to other students.
  • Encourage students to talk to their friends about their favourite read

-  Keep a chart of class reading achievements and award stars for progress. Remember to make sure everyone gets encouraged – think of different categories to reward eg ‘Best Improver’ or ‘Science Fiction Fiend’ or ‘Literature Lover’ etc.

-  Make sure you differentiate between reading for comprehension that you might do in class and reading for enjoyment

-  Give your students positive reading role models. Show them what you are reading and tell them a bit about it. Involve parents in the students’ reading and encourage them to read at home.

- Make a special ‘reading area’ in your classroom with some cushions or comfy seats.



Charlie Ellis became a committed hellenophile at her first taste of boureki, aged 4, and went on, several years later, to study Modern Greek and French Philology at the University of Oxford (Wadham College). She was also lucky enough to spend a year with the Philology department at the University of Rethymno. After university she gained her CELTA qualification in Cambridge and, after a spell of teaching, entered the world of ELT publishing where she has been ever since. A love of languages and their acquisition has motivated much research into the practicalities of teaching and the implementation of linguistic methodology. Charlotte is still a practising teacher with private students and currently works as the Head of Strategic Marketing at National Geographic Learning.