Run and read

Kevin Mueller, Tokyo International University


Quick guide

  • Keywords: Four skills, pair work, reading
  • Learner English level: Mid-beginner to high-intermediate
  • Learner maturity: Any
  • Preparation time: 20to 30 minutes
  • Activity time: 30to 45 minutes
  • Materials: Four copies of a reading text at learner-appropriate level, question sheets, adhesive tape, one pen/pencil per pair of students


The purpose of the activity is to have students skim and scan a level-appropriate text, and then pass on what they have read to a classmate. The classmate then records the information. This means each student will be required to use all four language skills during the course of the activity.


Step 1: Make four photocopies of the reading text. Remember to enlarge the copies so that they can be read from a distance.

Step 2: Make a list of 10-14 questions based on the text. The activity will be done in pairs, so an even number of questions will allow both partners to answer the same number of questions.

Step 3: Make photocopies of the questions. Students will share the question sheet with a partner so the number of photocopies required is equal to half the number of students in the class.

Step 4: Tape the four text photocopies on the walls of the classroom. Spread the texts around the room evenly.


Step 1: Have students pair up with a partner and have each pair sit at one desk.

Step 2: Hand out the question sheets to each pair.

Step 3: Show students that there are four copies of the text which contain the answers to the questions they have been given.

Step 4: Explain the activity by demonstrating with a student.

  • For the odd-numbered questions, partner A will be the runner and reader while partner B will be the secretary. For even-numbered questions, the roles will be reversed.
  • For question 1, partner B (the secretary) will read the question aloud and A will run to the wall to skim/scan for the answer.
  • After finding the answer, A will quietly tell B the answer. B will write the answerdown. If B is not sure of the spelling or pronunciation, B will ask for clarification. Student A can go back to the wall to confirm the spelling or details, if necessary.
  • Then, the roles will reverse for question 2. B will run and read while A acts as secretary.

Step 5: Students complete the questions one at a time until all the questions are answered. Remind students to tell their partner the answer quietly and to ask for clarificationif needed.


For homework, or in-class work, have students read the entire text together and review the answers done in the activity. Depending on students’ abilities, a written summary could also be assigned.


Many times students appear to be wedded to their dictionaries when reading and not too concerned with the overall themes and main ideas of a text. Run and read endeavors to have students break away from their dictionaries and engage a text in a unique way. This article presents but one way to teach students skimming and scanning skills. In addition, this activity allows students to express what they have read, convey the material orally and understand the material both aurally and in writing.