Developing Reading & Writing Proficiency in English Learners

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  • 0:04 Developing Skills
  • 0:44 Frontloading
  • 1:38 Journaling
  • 2:49 Group Reading & Learning Logs
  • 4:15 Process Writing
  • 5:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

The successful development of reading and writing skills is essential for English learners. This lesson provides teacher with effective approaches and scaffolding strategies designed to increase the reading and writing proficiency of English learners.

Developing Skills

English learners face a variety of academic challenges. Regardless of age or level, developing reading and writing proficiency in English learners can offer numerous benefits both in and out of the classroom. Everything from composing an essay to filling out a job application depends on the ability of the individual to accurately absorb information through reading and impart information through writing.

There are several approaches and scaffolding strategies you can use to help your students develop and maintain these essential skills. By utilizing a combination of language skills and practical reading and writing proficiency methods, you'll be able to provide your English learners with the skills they need to be successful.


Students can benefit greatly from frontloading vocabulary and language structures - in other words, getting a preview of new vocabulary and grammar structures they will encounter in a lesson. An understanding of language increases the likelihood of comprehension and retention of new material, regardless of the subject matter.

There are several approaches you can use to facilitate the frontloading process:

  • Provide students with vocabulary lists prior to delivering lesson content.
  • Give students language worksheets so they can preview and learn new material, both individually and in groups.
  • Incorporate games and other fun activities into the vocabulary and language learning process.

The more opportunities you provide your students, the better able they'll be to develop their reading and writing skills. Be sure to use a variety of vocabulary and language delivery techniques to keep students engaged with you, their classmates, and the lesson material.


There are several practical steps you can take in the classroom to support, or scaffold, the development of reading and writing proficiency. This section outlines these steps and provides useful insight into how they can be employed and adapted for different learning environments.

Keeping a journal allows students to practice several different skills. In addition to the application of writing skills journaling requires, journals are a great way for students to keep track of their progress over time. For instance, if students are encouraged or required to journal over several months, it's easier for both you and them to review their English language progression.

Journals also enable both you and the student to identify areas of weakness that need to be improved. For example, if a student consistently makes subject-verb agreement errors, this is an area you can address with further work.

It can be helpful to provide students, particularly younger students, with journal topics. If possible, try to relate the topics to the material you are teaching in class. Also, allow journal writing to be free flowing and not overly regulated. If students are worried about making language errors, they are less likely to experiment with new vocabulary and grammatical formations, which can hinder their development.

Group Reading & Learning Logs

Small group discussions of reading passages provide students with an opportunity to express ideas and hear other viewpoints. Discussions may also allow English learners to hear ideas and perspectives they may not have thought of during their own reading.

If you do employ reading discussion groups, be sure to switch up the group members often so that students are exposed to a variety of viewpoints and opinions. Making reading a shared undertaking rather than an individual exercise may help students approach reading more aggressively, since they know they will be asked to share their thoughts later.

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