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Understanding What Reading is All About - The Demands of Reading

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required


More Ways

Computer and LCD projector, or overhead projector, or document camera

Activity Description

This guide offers a set of 13 lessons designed to help learners understand the components of reading that are part of becoming a more fluent reader, and to guide them as they work with the teacher to set their own goals for reading. The lessons can be used as an independent mini-course, or they can be integrated into an existing curriculum. The guide is not intended as a comprehensive reading course or curriculum; rather, it can inform teachers and students as they plan learning activities that address the goals and skill needs of learners.

This material was created for ABE programs, but can also be adapted for use with ESOL learners. However, some activities are not appropriate or may need to be modified for beginning-level ESOL learners. The Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA) Brief, How Should Adult ESL Reading Instruction Differ from ABE Reading Instruction? , provides helpful information and research-based suggestions for helping ESOL learners learn the components of reading.

This activity will cover the lesson titled "The Demands of Reading."


  • Read through the lesson, paying special attention to the "Note to Teacher" sidebars. They give you valuable insights into how to present the lesson or info on pre-teaching activities.
  • Gather some authentic, everyday reading materials from the list in the lesson.
  • Scan some of the "authentic materials" you collected and make PDF files out of them so you can use a computer and a projector to put the items you want to talk about, up on a screen. (An interactive whiteboard would serve a similar purpose, but would be more interactive. Or if you have a document camera you can just place the item under the document camera during class.
  • If you decide to do the other lessons, there may be other preparation necessary. Just read through that lesson plan for clues.


Follow the directions and tips in the lesson plan to conduct your class. Everything you need to know is outlined there.

Teacher Tips

  • The "Note to Teacher" boxes both explain and supplement the instruction in the guide.
  • You may want to provide a folder or loose-leaf notebook for each learner to keep goal sheets, handouts, vocabulary words, and any writing about reading that they do in these lessons.
  • Be aware that the lessons vary in length; you may want to combine some of them to fit your class schedule. These lessons introduce strategies, but do not go into them in depth.
  • Many lessons have vocabulary words in bold. Teachers should write these on a black/whiteboard or a piece of newsprint for learners to copy down and keep.
  • Some of the teachers who piloted these lessons found it helpful to devote more time to practicing strategies as they were introduced by using supplemental materials.

More Ways

  • Use this guide in a flexible manner. Scan through it to see what seems practical to you. For example, you may use the first few lessons at the beginning of your own curriculum as a way to help learners set goals and assess their reading skills.
  • You may wait until a later date to introduce other concepts, like sight words or vocabulary development. You can also teach the 13 lessons straight through, then move on to your own curriculum, using this guide as a foundation.
  • As you teach these lessons, you may want to be sure that a variety of reading materials at various levels is available in your classroom to provide optional materials for learners.
  • Lesson Thirteen is called an "optional" lesson because technically spelling is a writing skill, not a reading skill. However, spelling can play a role in alphabetic awareness, so we include a lesson on spelling for those teachers and students who want to learn more about it.



  • Beginning High
  • Intermediate Low
  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced


Basic Communication

  • (1.2) Use information to identify and purchase goods and services
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.