Reading comprehension esl pdf

Reading comprehension esl pdf DEFAULT

5 Creative ESL Reading Comprehension Activities Your Students Will Love

Do your ESL students sometimes struggle to understand what they&#;ve read?

Are you starting to feel guilty every time you use another one of those pre-made comprehension worksheets?

Don&#;t have time to figure out how to spice things up?

You&#;re in the right place!

We have five awesome reading comprehension activities for you here, that your students will surely enjoy.

But why do these types of ESL activities in the first place?

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

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The Need for ESL Reading Comprehension Activities

We know why reading is important, right? Not only does reading teach ESL students grammar, word usage and idea expression, but it also enables them to acquire new information about their second language&#;s culture.

Additionally, reading helps students to see how English is communicated through writing, which is why a good writer is also a good reader.

But reading anything in a second language is never easy. ESL students who are still juggling new vocabulary, grammar rules and even phonics may find reading not only tedious, but also challenging.

Most of the time, students may read an assigned story or text for the mere purpose of &#;doing&#; it. Other times, students may have diligently poured over the text—but for one reason or another—completely misunderstood the content.

This is because reading is a complex cognitive process. It involves your student recognizing individual words and putting a string of words together in their relevant context. Depending on the syntactic structure of the sentence and the overall paragraph theme, the semantic of each word may shift to carry on new meanings.

Having reading comprehension activities in the classroom helps students to test their understanding of words in written context, while enabling them to get the most out of their reading assignments.

While you have undoubtedly used the conventional reading comprehension tests to quiz your students, there are ways to make reading comprehension activities effective without relying too much on pencils and papers.

And for more ideas for fun classroom activities,  be sure to check out FluentU.

FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

So let&#;s get rolling with these five activities and make reading a fun classroom task for all!

1. Picture Quiz: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

When your students finish reading a story, short text or long article, most reading comprehension activities look very similar to the following:

Sarah went to the (beach/park). There, she met a friend who went to (science class /summer camp) two years ago.

You can find free worksheets like this on and Mr., so you never need to spend time making one on your own.

But, because we want to make everything a bit more colorful and creative, we&#;re not going to use words and sentences. Instead of giving students two options to choose from or having them fill in the blanks, why not give them a bunch of pictures and do some matching?

If we use the example above, we can have several pictures labeled as A, B, C and D. Picture A can be a beach, Picture B can be a park and so on. Students can then sort through the pictures and write in the correct picture letter in the blank space.

Additionally, you can use connect the dots to connect pictures to its relevant sentences. Feel free to also throw in an irrelevant picture to make the activity a tad more tricky.

2. Sequence: Putting Humpty Dumpty Back Together

Use pictures to retell the story and help your students to remember main plot points, characters and events of the text. Here&#;s how:

To prepare, you&#;ll need to make a worksheet of a bunch of pictures that are labeled with either numbers or letters. Make sure that there are spaces or lines immediately below the pictures so your students can label the pictures based on what they see. Depending on the level of your students, you can turn the labeling exercise into the perfect drill for practicing spelling and sentence construction.

You&#;ll also need copies of two stories. Make sure each is single spaced, and printed on a separate piece of paper. Label each story &#;Story 1&#; and &#;Story 2.&#;

1. Give your students the picture worksheet and talk about what&#;s happening in each picture.

2. Ask your students to turn over the picture worksheet, and hand out the two stories to read.

3. After students finished reading, have them turn to the back side of the story papers. Without looking at the story, students should cut out the pictures and glue them to the back of the right story in chronological order.

If you need some inspiration on how to create a great picture reading comprehension worksheet, try There are also some interesting picture worksheets on that focus specifically on health literacy for ESL adults.

In the end, you&#;ll probably find (like me) that it&#;s more fun to find a story online and download images from Google to make your own picture stories.

3. Story Re-creation: It&#;s Alive!

This is a great activity, especially for your drama lovers. Story re-creation is about reading a text or story and acting it out to other students.

Depending on the level of your students, you can read the story together in class before dividing them into groups for further discussions.

If you want to have students figure out the plot on their own, make sure the group you create has members with different English skill sets. In other words, you don&#;t want to put all the strong readers in one single group. Spread them out so they can help others to succeed. Then:

1. Go to or any place to find short stories. Print them out and make copies.

2. Divide students in small groups, and give each group a different story that they&#;ll need to act out in front of the class.

3. Prepare or have your students prepare a list of short answers/multiple choices/true or false reading comprehension questions to not only engage the audience, but also to evaluate how well the actors capture the events of the story.

4. Then, once students have had enough time to prepare, it&#;s showtime!

4. Cause and Effect: Who Solves the Mystery?

Cause and effect questions help students to think outside the box and better understand the ripple effect of events. Text materials that have a mysterious plot or a historical background are excellent choices because they require students to understand the context of the mystery, the clues and the characters to fully appreciate the thrills of crime solving.

Give this interesting crime scene a try by reading it together with your students in class. The story also ends with the question: Why isn&#;t Inspector Coderre satisfied with Ms. Webb&#;s version of the event? 

Divide students in groups and answer this question together:

1. Create a cause and effect map to capture the first part of Ms. Webb&#;s testimony, which ends right before the sentence, &#;The inspector was very sympathetic and told her that it was very natural to not want to damage somebody&#;s property.&#;

Here is an example of the map based on what we read:

(effect) Ms. Webb could see the study room → it was well-lit (cause).

(cause) Ms. Webb broke a small window → to get into the house. (effect)

It doesn&#;t matter how we order the cause and effect. The point is to help students notice details in the story and make an effective analysis.

2. Ask the students to identify the part of testimony that made the detective lose his sympathy. Analyze that testimonial section with another cause and effect chart. Do they notice any inconsistency?

3. Discuss student findings as a whole class or in small groups.

5. Following Directions: It&#;s a Treasure Hunt!

When we think about reading comprehension materials, stories and short stories are usually the top resources that come to our minds. However, ESL teachers can do some hands-on activities to encourage students to read and thrive in a fun environment.

The treasure hunt reading comprehension game does just the trick. To play:

1. Hide different treasures (cards, small balls and beanies) in the classroom or schoolyard.

2. Write a short story and clues that tell where to find each treasure.

3. Divide students in groups and give them a map and a clue sheet to locate the treasure.

The map can be hand drawn or printed. Give unique names to the basic geographic features of the classroom/schoolyard so students can navigate the rain forest or dark caves without getting lost!

The clue sheet should begin with a short text that describes an actual or fictional event in the past. The story should include the name of the characters and vague descriptions of the treasures involved. The rest of the clue sheet should be filled with hints, codes and even secret messages for students to decode.

For example, if you hid a diamond playing card on the third shelf of a bookcase in the corner, you can give the following clue:

It stands in a corner with lots of pages for you to read. The diamond is on the third floor and right under a fairy tale. 

The first group that finds their treasure wins the game. But they are always welcome to join other teams to help them find their treasures too!

Have Fun with ESL Reading Comprehension

Sure, there is a time for your students to read for its sheer pleasure. However, reading comprehension activities maximize the benefits of reading by making it more relevant and personal through creative reinforcements.

Let&#;s help students to personalize the &#;read information&#; in applicable and meaningful manners with fun reading comprehension activities.

In the process, you will have opportunities to clarify misunderstandings, discuss points of ambiguities and enhance students&#; vocabulary, word usage and interpretation skills.

Who knows, with a few dashes of drama, entertainment and creativity, your ESL students will &#;read&#; happily ever after!

And One More Thing

If you're looking for creative ways to teach English, then you'll love using FluentU in your classroom!

It's got a huge collection of authentic English videos that people in the English-speaking world actually watch regularly. There are tons of great choices there when you're looking for songs for in-class activities.

You'll find music videos, musical numbers from cinema and theater, kids' singalongs, commercial jingles and much, much more.


On FluentU, all the videos are sorted by skill level and are carefully annotated for students.

Words come with example sentences and definitions. Students will be able to add them to their own vocabulary lists, and even see how the words are used in other videos.


For example, if a student taps on the word "searching," they'll see this:


Plus, these great videos are all accompanied by interactive features and active learning tools for students, like multimedia flashcards and fun games like "fill in the blank."


It’s perfect for in-class activities, group projects and solo homework assignments. Not to mention, it's guaranteed to get your students excited about learning English!

Sign up for a free trial and bring FluentU to your classroom today.

Elena is a linguist who enjoys helping ESL teachers and students to find ingenuity beyond the conventional ESL learning process. Besides teaching, Elena is also a freelance content writer who provides engaging and SEO content for business of all niches. Read more about her writing service at My Content Hopper.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach English with real-world videos.

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Beginners - reading

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My name is Ben
Simple, short reading text which can be used in many ways: speaking comprehension, written comprehension, interview roleplay, dictation race, etc, etc.

My Name Is Ben: True/False Questions
Answer Sheet
After reading the 'My Name Is Ben' text, students can answer these true/false reading comprehension questions.

My Name Is Ben: Open Questions
Answer Sheet
After reading the 'My Name Is Ben' text, students can do this open reading comprehension question exercise.

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The Town Of Clarkson
Short beginners level reading text. See below for associated exercises that can be done with this.

Multiple choice reading exercise
Multiple choice questions to go with the 'The Town Of Clarkson' reading text.

True or False questions
True or false questions to go with the 'The Town Of Clarkson' reading text.

Forming Questions
Worksheet which gets students forming questions based on the 'The Town Of Clarkson' reading text.

Tom's Day
Basic, short reading text. Can be used for comprehension or just as a prompt for students to discuss their own routines.

Tom's Day: True/False Questions
Answer Sheet
After reading the 'Tom's Day' text, students complete a true/false comprehension questions worksheet.

Tom's Day: Question Formation Worksheet
Answer Sheet
After reading the 'Tom's Day' text, students form questions based on the information in the text.

The Seattle Journalist
A short text about a journalist, his wife and their three children. Focus on different present forms of the verb 'have'.

The Seattle Journalist: Answer to Question Worksheet
A worksheet that gets students to write questions in the present simple based on the 'The Seattle Journalist' reading. Focuses on have/has.

The Seattle Journalist: Short Answer Worksheet
A worksheet that gets students to write short answers to questions based on the 'The Seattle Journalist' reading.

My Working Day
Another reading text that can be used in similar ways to the previous one. This one focuses more on daily routine.

My Working Day: Open Questions
Answer Sheet
After reading the 'My Name Is Ben' text, students can answer these true/false reading comprehension questions.

My Working Day: Question Formation Worksheet
Answer Sheet
After reading the 'My Working Day' text, students form questions based on the information in the text.

Barnton Swimming Pool
A dialogue to read. Tom calls his local swimming pool to ask for information.

Barnton Swimming Pool: True/False Questions
Answer Sheet
After reading the 'Barnton Swimming Pool' text, students can answer these true/false reading comprehension questions.

My Garden
Students read about a garden.

My Garden: Sentence Completion
Answer Sheet
Reading comprehension worksheet where students need to use one word to complete each sentence about the "My Garden" reading text.

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12 ESL Reading Exercises and Worksheets

After teaching for many years, I have learnt that the most successful reading comprehension worksheets in the classroom for elementary to pre-intermediate English language students are comprehension exercises that relate to their personal experiences. Reading exercises about weekend markets (shoppin), high school and university experiences, career ambitions and the effects of technology are a few of those topics.

1 The Weekend Market (with answers)

This is an English language reading comprehension worksheet about  a visit to a weekend market.  It is an experience that almost every student in the world can relate to and so it’s extremely suitable for an English language class.  Click on the link or the image to download the PDF file. 

A reading comprehension exercise about a weekend market for English language learners.

Weekend Market (PDF)

( see the YouTube video of “The Weekend Market”)

2 Air Tags

This is a reading comprehension about Apple’s latest innovation, Air Tags.

Air Tags (PDF)

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3 Lipstick

A short history of lipstick.

Lipstick (PDF)

4 Instagram influencer

This is reading comprehension exercise about a day in the life of an online influencer.

Instagram influencer (PDF)

5 Inventing a vaccine to save the world

Katalin Kariko and the story of mRNA

This is a reading comprehension exercise about the people who invented a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Inventing a vaccine (PDF)

6 Online  shopping assistant (with answers)

An online shopping assistant takes online orders and walks around a supermarket or department store and collects items to packed and delivered. This exercise is about the daily activities of a supermarket employee in this  line of work on the age of the coronavirus.  

Online shopping assistant reading comprehension

Online shopping assistant reading comprehension (PDF)

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7 Autonomous vehicles reading comprehension (with answers)

The arrival of autonomous vehicles is a topical issue of our times. It’s a great way to to engage in a discussion about the impacts of new technologies. 

Autonomous vehicles reading comprehension lesson

Autonomous vehicles reading comprehension (PDF)

8 First Day at University (with answers)

I have found that another easy-to-teach topic is a student’s  first day at university. This is a an experience that university students can identify with and  works smoothly in the classroom.

A first day at university reading comprehension exercise for English language learners.

First Day(PDF)

9 High School vs University (with answers)

This  reading exercise  focuses on the differences between high school students and university students.

High school vs university reading comprehension

High School vs University (PDF)

10  Christiane Amanpour (with answers)

This  reading  worksheet is  about the journalist Christiane  Amanpour.

A reading comprehension exercise for English language learners about the journalist and reporter Christiane Amanpour.

Christiane Amanpour (PDF)

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11  What effect has technology had on our lives? (with answers)

This is an English language reading comprehension worksheet about the effects of technology.  It is an excellent complement to any lesson focusing on technology and society. It also works well in a class  when the teacher is trying to determine students’ knowledge of computing and internet vocabulary. I used it in a class with Thai ICT students and I could quickly asses the different English language abilities of the students.

Effects of technology reading comprehension worksheet for English language learners.

What effect has technology had on our lives? (PDF)

12  How to Entertain (with answers)

This is an English language reading comprehension worksheet about entertaining.

"How to Entertain" reading comprehension worksheet for English language learners.

How to Entertain ?


Esl reading pdf comprehension

Do you need English reading comprehension worksheets to supplement your ESL classroom?

Check out some of the worksheets and editable documents on this page.

ESL Reading Comprehension Worksheets

Why Reading Comprehension Is Important

Reading comprehension, or the ability to understand the things you read, is a vital component of any ESL curriculum.

Students learning a second language may be able to easily and accurately pronounce the text they see on a page without actually understanding what it says, so it’s important to test them to make sure they’re actually comprehending the things they’re reading.

It’s also important to give your students strategies for reading to help them more easily understand stories and other texts.

Printable ESL Reading Comprehension Worksheets

You can download and print all of the following worksheets for free. Use them in your lessons or assign them as homework to your students.

Worksheets for Beginners (A1-A2)

Worksheets for Intermediates (B1-B2)

Worksheets for Advanced (C1-C2)

How to Teach Reading Comprehension (5 Tips)

Incorporate Reading Comprehension Exercises in Your ESL Classes

You can teach reading comprehension in your ESL class by giving students exercises to complete directly after they read a passage. This forces them to pay attention to the content of what they’re reading because they know questions are coming.

You can also practice active reading with your students, showing them how to pay attention to sentence structures and keywords. This helps them recognize what to look for when they’re reading and figure out what’s happening in a passage without understanding every single word.

Hand out Worksheets as Homework

Because reading is a solitary activity, reading comprehension worksheets are a great homework assignment for students. Your ESL students can read and answer questions at their own pace at home, strengthening their reading comprehension skills and deepening their love of learning in the process.

Check Pronunciation

If you are using these worksheets in a one-to-one lesson then use it as an opportunity to test your student’s pronunciation. The first time they read the passage, have them read it out loud.

Make a note of any words where the pronunciation needs improving and then correct them afterwards. Once the first pass is done, they can read it in their head if it helps aid their comprehension.

Pick the Right Level

Don’t forget to choose a suitable worksheet for your student’s level. It should go without saying but it can be easy to forget this sometimes.

Don’t be afraid to step back a level if your student is really having a rough time. At the same time, if they are going through these like a knife through butter then it’s time to turn up the difficulty level!

Help Them Out

Try to get your students to work things out from context as much as possible. This will help build their language ability.

However, if they are really not getting a particular section, don’t be afraid to step in and help them out. Sometimes, understanding just one important keyword in a sentence is enough to unlock the context of an entire paragraph.

Browse our full archive of printable ESL worksheets.

Reading Comprehension Test - Level A + PDF - Practice Past Simple - Easy English Lesson

Yes, there just need to be warmed up, as I knew, yesterday I made cabbage hodgepodge. I thought Ill eat for a week, but will you save me from disgust for her. she laughed brightly, get in the shower out of the way.

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Just turn around and walk away. And leave everything here - all your worries and fears: Leave: Just turn around and go down the stairs: Go outside: Walk to the nearest stop and leave. Here forever: And just, forget all this, all this nonsense, into which I wanted to plunge, all these thoughts, and that's it.

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