Keep your students awake: Using prediction in a reading class

Yuko Matsumoto, Waseda University

Quick guide

  • Key words: Prediction, reading, excitement, transitions, hints
  • Learner English level: Low-intermediate to advanced
  • Learner maturity: University
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Activity time: 20-30 minutes
  • Materials: Prepared copies of a reading (cut into three or four pieces)


Why are so many students bored out of their minds in a reading class? It might be because they consider reading to be a completely passive activity that offers no excitement. When students are reading their favorite comic books or novels, they cannot wait to flip the page, since they are eager to find out what happens next. While reading, they are unconsciously making and checking predictions, which generates excitement. Is it possible for students to become more actively involved in English reading so that they can experience the same type of excitement in the classroom as they do when reading at home for pleasure? Here is one suggestion to enliven the reading classroom.


Step 1: Choose an appropriate text in terms of length and level of the students. For instance, a three- or four paragraph story (approximately one page) would be a perfect length for low-intermediate students. It works better if the story has several clear transitions in its flow, so that you can find proper cut-off points where the students can make a prediction about the upcoming scene.

Step 2: Make enough copies for each student, and cut the copies into three or four pieces at the points in the text where you want the students to make predictions. 


Step 1: Distribute the first part of the copy (Scene 1) to each student, and have them read it within the time limit allotted. Two or three minutes should be sufficient, but it depends on the length of the part and the students’ level. 

Step 2: Divide the students into groups of three or four. Have them share their predictions regarding what will happen in the next scene. After the group sharing, ask each group to report their opinion to the class. At this point, the teacher should encourage the students to provide convincing explanations to support their predictions so that they can be more conscious of a logical approach to reading. Other groups are also invited to ask questions, which will create a natural opportunity to exchange feedback with each other.

Step 3: Distribute the second part of the copy (Scene 2), and ask the students to check whether their prediction was correct or not. If their prediction was incorrect, let them discuss what they were missing.

Step 4: Based on the second part of the reading, have the students make a prediction for the next scene. 

Step 5: Repeat until the end of the story.


The reading text for this activity does not have to be a story. It could be part of a news article or even an essay, as long as it has clear transitions and potential room for (or hints to help) the students to make predictions. It is also fun to count the number of correct predictions of each group to turn the activity into a sort of competition between the groups.


It is rather difficult for the students to maintain their level of concentration and interest with regard to a reading text unless they are skilled readers or there are urgent reasons for them to study the text. In this activity, however, the students can enjoy making predictions and verifying them during the process of reading.