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Reading comprehension tasks equal a text (of varying length) and then questions, right?

What about if you start with the questions, and have no text prepared? Maybe something like this:

  • Tell your students they are going to do a reading comprehension and that you’re going to tell them the questions
  • Dictate your questions (between 5 and 8 questions is probably sufficient – see below for my example) and ask your students to write them down
  • They can then check the questions with each other, and if you want you can write up or project accurate versions
  • At this point, put on your best actor’s hat, rifle through your papers, and tell the students that, oh dear, you have forgotten the reading text
  • But the students will write the answers anyway. Ask them to make up the answers (and they can be as silly as they like). Set a time limit for this (5 minutes, for example)

  • When your students have written something for each question, put them into pairs or groups of 3
  • Ask your students to choose the best answers, and then to write the story to link their answers together
  • Finally, stick on the wall and let your students decide which is best!


Open questions are best. Yes/No questions will not work so well at the answer-writing stage.

You can use the questions to feed in any particular structures you want to look at with your students (for example, ‘would like to’ – What would David like to do in the future?)


Walton on further ideas for adapting/extending the idea above: Reverse Reading Comprehension

The post was kindly shared both by Simon Thomas on his ELT News feed, and Eva posted it on the Teaching English Facebook Page – Thanks both!!

Meanwhile, Naomi Epstein shared this Enthusiatic Comment on her blog Visualising Ideas

Anna has also shared her experience of using the activity in her Moments from an unplugged day