Page Links

Reading Instructions for English Language Learners

Emphasize oral language development before you begin to teach reading.

Children can not be expected to learn to read a language before they have an understanding of that language as it is spoken. Much of our reading skill depends on how we expect a sentence to flow, or a string of words to make sense. If we do not have an understanding of the language then we do not have a framework for understanding what we are reading. As language learners, we all learn to speak before reading and writing, this pattern must be followed for new language learners at any age. Reading aloud to children (from books that are age and content appropriate) is an excellent way to familiarize children with a new language.
It is impossible to read and comprehend what you read unless you already know most of the vocabulary included in the reading. (For more information on reading aloud to children)

Be sure that students understand the vocabulary you are using, and that is used in the reading material you have selected. Background knowledge

Find out if the child already knows the rudiments of reading and writing in his or her first language.

Does your child know that letters make up words? That words are read in sentences beginning at one end and ending at another? You child may have experience with reading and writing in his or her first language that may be very different than our own. For example, many languages use other orthographic symbols or characters rather than words composed of letters. Some cultures read their text from top to bottom or right to left rather than left to right. Try to find out about your student's first language either through a conversation with the student, or her or his teacher or a family member.

Children who have not received instruction in their first language may be very young, however... it is not unusual to find children who are old enough to be in second or third grade, but who have never attended school.