Roald Dahl English Language Reading Comprehension for ESL Students

Updated: Jul 15, 2020

english language reading comprehension activity the giraffe and the pelly and me by roald dahl
Glossary of Roald Dahl's 'The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me'

I have a delightful collection of English language reading materials which my most ambitious and motivated students are able to borrow in order to discover the pleasure (and numerous challenges!) of reading in English. In this blog post I would like to share with you the positive results I have achieved with one of my best young students (13 year old girl).

My student chose Roald Dahl’s window cleaning adventure story ‘The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me’, a 73-page book interspersed with lots of stimulating and funny drawings to illustrate the story. Therefore the actual amount of reading content in the book is reasonable and digestible for a motivated 13 year old ESL student.

The instructions for this reading exercise were simple and consisted of two important points:

(1) I wanted my student to read the book, at her own pace, and only when she found time during her busy school/home life. I didn’t want to set the reading task as obligatory homework since I wanted her reading experience to be as relaxed and leisurely as possible, so that she did not feel ‘under pressure’ to read the book within a certain number of weeks.

(2) To help with learning new words and vocabulary my student created an English - Italian Glossary Section (2 or 3 pages) in her exercise book. All new English words were added to this glossary list as and when she discovered them. (She used a dictionary or the internet to find out the meaning of each new word in Italian in order to help her learn the new English words.

At the start of our weekly English lesson I checked (and corrected, where necessary) her English-Italian vocabulary terms. The colourful image which accompanies this post is the first page of the glossary. Highlighter pen colour coding was adopted to make it easier to see the different types of words. Therefore BLUE represents NOUNS (sostantivi), PINK = VERBS and YELLOW = adjectives. We decided to cross out some of the glossary terms as we both agreed that they were “a bit too difficult” or “not particularly useful”.

Our joint conclusion was that this English reading comprehension activity was very enjoyable, stimulating and most useful in helping my student to learn some new and useful English vocabulary. My student has readily expressed her desire to continue with this type of reading experience in the future with the help and guidance of her teacher.

It's time to check your pronunciation!!!

The pronunciation of the English 'th' sound is particularly problematic for ESL learners, so it would be a good idea for you to spend a few moments perfecting your pronunciation!

My blog posts focus on the particular difficulties that Italians experience when studying English.

Christopher White (mother-tongue English teacher) Jesi, Italy.