Literature Circles in a Second Language Classroom

What are Literature Circles?

Literature Circles are a teaching method used to allow students to share ideas and thoughts about material they have read together as a class. They can be modified so that students in a second language program can maintain a group discussion with ease. By choosing reading material at an appropriate level and providing students with some guidance as to questions to ask one another, students are able to effectively communicate their ideas to their peers, thus building their confidence in speaking a second language.

During Literature Circle discussions, students are normally divided into groups of 3 or 4, and are assigned different roles, some of which may be:

  • Leader: The leader is in charge of keeping the discussion flowing, and assuring that everyone stays on task.
  • Time Keeper: This student's role is to remind the group how much time is left for discussion
  • Referee: Must remind students to speak in the target language.
  • Distributor: Must pick up and hand in required group materials (laptops, question sheets...).
  • Spokesperson: This student will answer questions on behalf of the group should there be a class discussion following the literature circles lesson.

Why Use Literature Circles in Your Second Language Program?

  • Literature Circles allow students to practice speaking a second language in comfortable environment.
  • Literature Circles are an effective means for students to practice and review vocabulary as well as grammar concepts learnt.
  • Using Literature Circles in your classroom will help you meet and assess required Standards and Benchmarks in the Second Language curriculum.


Teaching Resources

With your subscription the Education by Shala Books website, you will have access to a series of ebooks that are accompanied by the following Literature Circles resources:

Literature Circles Program:

We provide you with Literature Circles lesson plan, homework ideas, classroom activities, and rubrics to help evaluate your students.

Literature Circles Worksheets:

These worksheets contain questions to assist you implementing literature circles discussion groups, as well as reading comprehension questions that supplement each of the ebooks.

You may also choose to run a Literature Circles lesson in you classroom at the end of your unit. As part of your subscription, you will be able to download a Teacher's Guide that includes:

  • a Literature Circles lesson plan
  • Reading Comprehension questions for each ebook
  • Discussion questions for each ebook
  • Rubrics for evaluating your students
  • Additional homework / activity ideas


Evaluating Your Students

Reading: Before the discussion groups, the student will read the material. You can evaluate your students' reading comprehension skills in a variety of ways.

  • Assign reading comprehension questions for homework.
  • Have the students take a quiz or test based on the reading material.
  • ‚ÄčAsk the students to complete a worksheet based on the material and hand it in before the lesson is over.
  • Have the students write a summary of what they have read.
  • Have students make a list, in chronological order, of important events that happened in the story.


Writing: Prior to group discussions, you can assign projects based on the reading material. The following are some examples.
  • Have the students create a skit based on the characters and events in the story.
  • Ask the students to design a poster advertising the location of the story as a vacation destination.
  • Have the students create a game board with questions/answers based on the story they have read.
  • Ask students to hand in what they have noted immediately.
  • Have the students edit what they have recorded prior to handing them in as a homework assignment.
  • Ask the students to write a summary of the answers based on their group's discussion.


Oral: Literature Circles allow you to evaluate your students' oral abilities in a number of different ways.
  • As the students are discussing their ideas, listen to their conversations and record notes about individual students' abilities. If you have a larger class size, have one discussion group going at a time while the rest of the class is working on another assignment.
  • After the discussion groups, call students individually and ask them some of the same questions they have been asking each other in their groups. Since they have already had practice within their groups, they should be able to respond appropriately.


Auditory: Prior to the Literature Circles discussion groups.
  • Read a section or all of the material aloud. As you are reading, have the students answer questions on a worksheet based on what they hear.
  • After reading the story, have the students write a summary of what they heard.


Auditory: During and after the Literature Circles discussion groups.
  • During the Literature Circles discussions groups, students are required to listen to what their peers have said. Have the students record the answers on paper, and hand them in for evaluation.
  • After the discussion groups, have the students hand in the answers provided by their peers. Choose some of the answers and read them aloud. Students will need to write down who said what, and hand the papers in for evaluation.
  • Have the students make a list, in chronological order, of important events that happened in the story.