Skip to main content

Example reading text for low intermediates

On there is a huge range of articles to help students improve their reading comprehension. The two key factors I bear in mind when selecting texts are: (1) Is the text at the right linguistic level to make it accessible enough? (2) Is the content inherently interesting for the age range it is pitched at? Below is an example from the Y9 page (low intermediate). I used questions in English for this text to make it more accessible for low intermediates, but there are also true/false/not mentioned questions to add extra reading input.

The text was rewritten from online encyclopedia material.

Le suricate

Le suricate mesure de 26 à 38 centimètres Il mange des insectes, des souris, des rats, des oiseaux, des petits reptiles et des bulbes de plantes qu'il trouve dans le sol avec ses griffes.

Le suricate habite en colonies de vingt membres environ, dans des terriers des plaines d'Afrique du sud, au sud du fleuve Orange (Angola, Namibie, Afrique du Sud et sud du Botswana).  La mère suricate produit entre 2 et 7 bébés.

Pour chercher leur nourriture, les suricates creusent le sol. Ils ont donc la tête dans le sable et des sentinelles veillent sur le groupe. Ils se dressent sur les pattes arrière pour avoir une bonne vue et ils communiquent par cris pour alerter le groupe des dangers, comme la présence d’oiseaux de proie.

Quand les jeunes ont moins de trois semaines, des individus du groupe restent avec eux au terrier pendant toute la journée. Ces babysitters, qui ne sont pas nécessairement parents des jeunes, ne mangent pas et surveillent le terrier et les jeunes.

Le suricate est brun-gris avec quelques marques sombres sur son dos. Deux particularités importantes : il a une queue très agile qui agit comme une cinquième patte et une vue exceptionnelle.

Les suricates sont immunisés à une grande variété de poisons, des morsures de serpents aux piqûres de scorpions. Les suricates coupent la queue venimeuse des scorpions avant de les manger.

Il fait très chaud dans le désert du Kalahari, alors les parents recouvrent leurs petits de sable pour les protéger du soleil.

Les suricates ne doivent pas boire beaucoup car l’eau est fournie par les insectes et larves qu’ils mangent.


claw – g________ (f)                                  soil - ___ (m)            
roughly – e__________                               burrow – t_________ (m)
river – f________ (m)                                  to dig – c________
sand – s_________ (m)                               to watch over – v_________ ___
to sit up - __ __________                           leg – p________ (f)
bird of prey - ________ __ _____ (m)       dark – s________
tail – q________ (f)                                    bite – m__________ (f)
sting – p___________ (f)                           to cut off – c_________
to cover – r____________                         to protect – p____________
provided by - ___________ ___                                       


1.         What does the meerkat eat?
2.         How does it find its food?
3.         Where does it live?
4.         What is a “sentinel” and why are they needed?
5.         How do meerkat lookouts get a good view?
6.         What is the main predator of meerkats? 
7.         What does the article say about babysitting?
8.         What natural immunisation do meerkats have?
9.         What care do they take when eating scorpions?
10.       How do parents protect their young from the heat of the desert?
11.       Mention one way they obtain water.

Vrai, faux ou pas mentionné?

1.         Le suricate habite dans des terriers dans des régions désertiques.
2.         Les suricates ne sont jamais mangés par des oiseaux.
3.         Le suricate trouve de quoi manger sous le sol.
4.         Le suricate pèse environ deux kilos.
5.         Le suricate se dresse sur les pattes arrière pour amuser le public.
6.         Les suricates font attention quand ils mangent des scorpions.
7.         Le suricate a des marques sombres sur le ventre.
8.         Les babysitters sont toujours les parents des bébés.
9.         Le suricate est capable de voir sur une distance de 500 mètres.
10.       Ils crient pour communiquer aux autres.
11.       Le suricate a une protection naturelle contre les serpents venimeux ?
12.       Les enfants adorent regarder les meerkats.


Popular posts from this blog

Tell stories


How can we make listening more enjoyable and effective for pupils? How can we turn it from a potential chore to something more memorable (and therefore more likely to stick in their long term memories)? I am of the opinion that since humans are "wired" to engage in personal listening and speaking (the expression "social brain" has been used in this context), they may be more interested and attentive when the message comes from a real person rather than a disembodied audio source. (This may or may not be relevant, but research has been carried out which demonstrates that babies pick up phonological patterns better when they listen to a caregiver rather than listen to a tape or watch a video - see here for summaries of research into this area by Patricia Kuhl.)

One easy way to make listening stimulating for pupils is to tell them easy stories in the target language. I was reminded of this while reading Penny Ur's book 100 Teaching Tips (reviewed here

New GCSE resources on frenchteacher

As well as writing resources for the new A-levels, I have in recent months been posting a good range of materials to support the new GCSEs. First exams are not until 2018, but here is what you can find on the site in addition to the many other resources (grammar exercises, texts, video listening etc).

I shall not produce vocabulary lists since the exam board specifications now offer these, with translations.

Foundation Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Role-plays
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (2)
100 translation sentences into French (with answers)
Reading exam
Reading exam (2)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (Word)

Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier) (2)
20 translations into French (with answers)
Reading exam (Higher tier)
How to write a good Higher Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a…

What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’( The point i…

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas

When the pressure is on and there are only so many hours on the week, you need a repertoire of zero preparation go-to activities which promote input and/or practice. Here are five you might well find useful.

1. My weekend

We know that listening is the most important yet often neglected skill for language learning. It's also something some pupils find hard to do. To develop listening skill and provide tailored comprehensible input try this:

You tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up!

You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own tru…