The first part of this blog post focused on how to set your English Language Learners (ELLs) up for success BEFORE reading. In Steps 1-5, we discussed previewing vocabulary, building background knowledge and providing helpful visuals. Now, we are ready to dig into how to support students during reading and after, in their response to reading.
6. SUPPORT ELLS IN READING:
After previewing vocabulary, providing visuals, and building background knowledge, ELLs need support during the act of reading, especially with a text above their reading level.
Choral reading, which is having students read aloud at the same time, is a great way to support ELLs and build their reading fluency. It can be done as a whole class or in a small group. This is a very unintimidating way for beginning ELLs to practice reading aloud. It also offers each student the most opportunities for reading aloud as opposed to taking turns or even partner reading.
Give your ELLs as many exposures to the text as possible. This could be first listening to the teacher model fluent reading, then choral reading, partner reading, silent reading, etc. With each read, your students will build their fluency, gain confidence in their ability, and improve their understanding of the vocabulary and topic presented. You can also set a different purpose for each read, like in close reading. There are many variations of how to implement close reading, but below is an example of what a fiction close read could look like for your ELLs:
Taking any opportunity to have ELLs practice their oral language skills is important. So, after giving them time to organize their thoughts in writing, students share their thoughts with a partner or small group.
Students can record information in a notebook, graphic organizer, or other reading response such as this close reading cap craft below.
7. TEACH READING COMPREHENSION STRATEGIES:
Modeling and practicing reading comprehension strategies is beneficial to all students in building strong, independent readers. Having visuals displayed with student-friendly definitions and clear pictures is key for introducing and reinforcing reading strategies. I always display a reading strategy word wall of all the strategies we use, in order to refer to them regularly. I also use a larger, more detailed poster as we dive into a specific strategy.
I like to start with modeling one strategy at a time through think-alouds, then whole group practice, and ultimately independent practice. I will stick with that strategy until I feel students really understand it before moving on to the next. The goal is for students to eventually use multiple strategies at the same time in their own independent reading. Using graphic organizers, reading crafts, and other visuals that break down each strategy can really make them “stick” for ELLs and all students.
8. FOSTER DISCUSSION:
As the teacher, it is important to pose thoughtful questions, both literal and inferential, to your ELLs. This class discussion is critical in the comprehension of your ELLs. It helps to clarify any misconceptions they may have had from the text.
As this discussion can sometimes be information overload for your ELLs struggling with listening comprehension, it can also be helpful to keep track of information from the class discussion in a visual way. This could be done by the teacher on a white board/anchor chart or by the students in their own individual record or graphic organizers.
9. PROVIDE MULTIPLE WAYS FOR STUDENTS TO SHOW UNDERSTANDING:
When considering comprehension activities for your ELLs, remember that there are 4 areas of language acquisition ELLs always need to be working on – Speaking, listening, writing and reading.
Since we have already covered listening and reading, that leaves 2 areas of output ELLs can use for showing comprehension – writing or speaking. It’s important to provide plenty of ways for students to practice these areas. This allows them to show their language strengths through some activities, but also improve on the areas they struggle with in other activities. Some ways students can show their comprehension is through:
- class discussions,
- oral presentations (given one on one or to a small group for beginners),
- meeting with the teacher,
- creating a poster,
- a PowerPoint presentation,
- a graphic organizer,
- short answers,
- a reading response craft,
- a piece of writing, and so on.
10. CONTINUE TO BUILD ON NEW KNOWLEGDE:
As with all students, research has shown that ELLs need multiple exposure to vocabulary and information for it to really sink into their long-term memory. To make information on a topic stick, reading texts that can build on information they have just read in one lesson provides a great way to reiterate what was already learned.
For example, if I read a text on sea turtles, I could then choose a fiction or nonfiction texts around oceans or ocean animals to expose ELLs to similar vocabulary and ideas. This allows them to build on their background knowledge of a topic and begin to make deeper connections. This can be much more effective than consistently choosing topics that are all over the place from one day to the next, especially with ELLs.
If you are interested in any of the reading resource pictured above, click on the resource covers below for a closer look!