Following Instructions

If we want students to improve their Reading Comprehension skills, we must teach them the importance of following instructions.

Students often ignore instructions or skip part of them. They should be taught to follow instructions carefully.

The following exercise is a classic exercise on the need to follow instructions carefully.

Hand out the following exercise:

This is a test to determine how well you are able to follow instructions. Before you begin, read the whole test once carefully, to make sure you understand all the directions.

  1. In the first two lines of this text, circle every word beginning with the letter i
  2. Underline two nouns in direction 1 of this test.
  3. Count and write down the number of three letter words in the first sentence.
  4. Cross out all the commas in the first two directions.
  5. Underline all the verbs in instructions 1-4.
  6. Do not follow any of the first five directions. Do not make any mark on this test.

You will probably be surprised by the high number of students who will start writing immediately even though they have been clearly instructed to read the whole test before writing anything.

This classic exercise has a very important objective: to teach students the importance of reading and following instructions carefully. 

The second step should focus on the meaning of instructions or directions, lines, sentences, letters, words, commas, nouns and verbs.

The exercise can be followed by a class conversation on Reading Strategies:

Should we always read the whole text and then start answering the questions?

What might be the advantage of reading the first paragraph in a Reading Comprehension text, answering the questions related to the first paragraph and then moving to the next paragraph and so on?

Is the title of the text important?

Should we read the questions first and then read the relevant paragraph?

Students should be aware of the different Reading Strategies and choose what works best for them. There is no perfect reading strategy that works for everybody. Understanding the options will certainly enrich the students' reading abilities.

Suggestions for Homework Assignments:

Have you ever missed a question in a test or ignored important instructions? Share that unpleasant experience with your classmates. Write about it!

   and that's all for today.

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