Strategies for Reading to Language Learners

We've talked about why we should read to second language learners. But what are some good strategies for reading? What can we do to allow early language learners to participate in the read aloud?

1. Choose simple and basic stories. Complicated texts or stories with too much unfamiliar vocabulary will just discourage students.

2. Read stories the children are already familiar with. Since they'll already have the gist of what happens in the story, they won't get lost. They'll be more easily able to pick up new vocabulary and sentence structure.

3. Read the story multiple times during a week. Students need exposure over and over to new vocabulary. As you read a 3rd, 4th, ... time, pause now and then and allow the students to complete the sentence.

4. Use a variety of methods to help students understand the vocabulary in the story. Use gestures, your facial expressions, point to illustrations, provide extra illustrations and/or manipulatives when you can. During your 3rd, 4th, ... time reading the story, let the students be the ones to participate in the reading through use of gestures, facial expressions, or use of the extra illustrations and/or manipulatives.

5. Ask questions as you read. "Where is _____?" "Is she happy?" "Does she want to ____?" Give your students the opportunity to use new and previously learned vocabulary.

6. Once you've read the story several times, let your students act it out. They love this! Encourage them to retell the story.

7. Provide them with their own readers to read on their own. Or use audio books along with student readers so they can read along with the audio.

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