Teaching ELL Students to Read

Instructor: Marquis Grant
There has been an increase in the number of English Language Learners (ELLs) in the classroom. This lesson will highlight ways in which to teach ELLs to become successful readers. A short quiz will follow to test your knowledge about teaching ELLs to read.

Teaching ELLs Students to Read

In the school setting, English Language Learners (ELLs) are those students whose primary language is not English. These students may have been born in another country or they may have been born in the United States but raised in households where English is limited or nonexistent.

An increase in the number of English Language Learners in the classrooms means teachers need to find strategies and activities that will support those students academically. One of the main areas where ELLs struggle is reading, largely because of language barriers. These students may struggle with decoding, the sounding out of unfamiliar words, or comprehension, being able to understand what they are reading.

Teaching ELL students to read may be challenging for both the educator and student, but it is not impossible. It's just a matter of finding strategies and activities that are best suited for the needs and learning styles of your students. Because of diverse student needs, especially your ELL students, you will want to look for ways to differentiate your instruction so that all of your students benefit from the lesson. When you differentiate instruction, you typically use different materials, resources and instructional methods so that all of your students' learning needs are supported. You may want to consider strategies such as the following: scaffolding instruction, chunking the text, emphasizing vocabulary and modeling good reading.

Scaffold Reading Instruction

When you scaffold instruction, you are breaking the reading lesson into smaller parts so that you are not giving your students too much information at once. You certainly do not want to overwhelm students who are already behind in their reading. Breaking the information into chunks keeps them from becoming overwhelmed or frustrated. Scaffolding instruction also helps you determine where students may not understand certain parts of the lesson and gives you an opportunity to develop a plan for re-teaching that part.

Another way of scaffolding instruction is through chunking of the text. By chunking text, you are able to break reading into smaller, manageable sections. This can help students organize information to make reading easier and increase comprehension. The teacher can either chunk the text for students or have the students chunk the text themselves. For example, if students are reading a story with four paragraphs, the teacher may chunk each paragraph and check for student comprehension or take two lines at a time, read the lines, then check for comprehension.

Emphasize Vocabulary

Exposure to as much vocabulary as possible is probably the single most important strategy that you should use as a teacher of students who are learning the English language. Because vocabulary varies with each subject area, you should spend at least five to ten minutes a day explicitly reinforcing vocabulary that will be used throughout your lesson. Explicit instruction could include defining key vocabulary terms, using them in a sentence, and providing a picture that can be associated with the word.

A young ELL student might learn food vocabulary easier with pictures
Vocabulary

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