How to Run a Reading Race

Reading Race

How to Run a Reading Race


T (teacher) or SS (student/s) find a suitable text. Choose a text that is interesting for you and your students, and at a level that will challenge them, i.e. just above their current level. You might want to adapt the text, e.g. you could make it easier by changing harder words for synonyms and deleting harder sentences. The text could be:

  • from a real source of English, e.g. a newspaper, book, leaflet
  • one that a group has created, e.g. in a Mode 1 class
  • one that an individual SS has written
  • one that T has written

T chooses 10-15 keywords from the text – this is the target vocabulary.

T puts one or two copies of the text on the wall away from where the SS are sitting.


1. SS get into pairs. T explains that SS are going to do a fun pair activity that involves all the skills – reading, writing, speaking, and listening. T writes the keywords on the board. SS copy them into their notebooks.

2. T drills the words with the class. The class could discuss:

  • meaning, e.g. translate the words
  • no. of syllables
  • stressed syllable
  • stressed vowel sound
  • spelling patterns, e.g. any phonetic words or unusual spellings

3. T asks the pairs to decide who is going to read/speak and who is going to listen/write. They can change roles later on.

4. T takes all the ‘readers’ and shows them the text on the wall. T explains the task: the reader must read a short part of the text, remember it, then go to their partner and tell them. Their partner writes it down. Then they repeat the process until they have a correct written copy of the whole text. There are a few rules:

  • The reader cannot shout from the text to their partner; they have to go to their partner
  • Nobody can touch or remove the text
  • There can be no notebooks and pens near the text

5. SS may change roles during the activity. When a pair has written the complete text they should read through their copy and check it for grammatical and spelling errors. If necessary, one person can go back and check the text on the wall and tell their partner how to make corrections.

6. When all of the pairs have finished writing the text, T chooses one or more SS to read it aloud. T asks SS to listen for and shout out any remaining errors in the text as it is read aloud.

Or –

SS swap their version of the text with another team and T reads the text as it was printed on the handout. SS have to check the text in front of them for errors. They give one point for each deviation from the original text, e.g. a missing word or the wrong kind of article. The pair with the lowest number of points at the end is the winning team!

7. T could give a clean copy of the text to each SS afterwards for reference.


  • T must enforce the rules – especially about not shouting from the text – otherwise the activity will not be as effective and may descend into chaos!
  • If there are three SS in a group, there could be two SS reading and one writing – or vice versa – and they could change roles twice, so that each SS gets to read and write during the activity.

Image: Jonathan Chng