As a teacher at an International School, many of my students are English Language Learners. Even my native English speakers are living in a non-English speaking country. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. Here is this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:
ELL Teaching Tip of the Week: Explain Your Read Aloud
Have you ever noticed that about two sentences into your read aloud at least some of your ESL students zone out? Why is this? Because they aren’t reading, they are listening. In addition, they are listening to you read at your speed, which means they are most likely only getting a few words from each sentence. After a few sentences of not understanding, it’s real easy to start to zone out. Listen to this story in Arabic and note how long before you start to tune out. (I made it 3 pages, and I have some experience with Arabic.)
So, how do we keep our students from tuning out?
1.) Use picture books, even with older grades. A picture tells a thousand words and gives students a lot of context clues about what is going on. Pictures also keep students engaged and focused.
2.) Stop and explain. In the beginning of the year, I stop every few sentences for a comprehension check. As the year goes on and we build our vocabulary, the time between comprehension checks gets longer. There are many ways to do a comprehension check.
3.) Use text with words. On the website www.wegivebooks.org, you can find projectable versions of many classic stories. If you project these stories during read aloud, then your ESL students have a chance to scan the words while they are listening to you, building up their comprehension.
4.) Explain your read aloud procedure to guest readers. It is great to have parents and others in to read a book, but if you want your students to be engaged with these guest readers then you need to provide some assistance. Ask guest readers to choose a book they have read before and to pick at least 2 places in the book for simple comprehension checks like “What do you think is going to happen next?”
5.) Pose a “guiding question” to students before you begin. Tell them that while you read, you want them listening to find out … This will help encourage students to stay focused, and will also allow them to focus in on the important information and vocabulary. Have students write down the answers in their Read Aloud Journal.
6.) Re-read stories. There is nothing that says that you can only read a story once. Re-read the same story multiple times with different guiding questions. By the third or fourth time you’ve read it, everyone will have understood the plot line.
7.) Have a “warm read” box. Places stories you have read aloud in a box that is accessible to students during independent reading. Let students re-read and clarify meaning by reading these books on their own.
Do you enjoy the weekly TESOL Teaching Tips? Would you like to view an hour long presentation on this topic? I recently presented on Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners at the Everything’s Intermediate Expo. Now you can grab the presentation for just $3.95 from Teacher’s Notebook.
Find more TESOL Teaching Tips here, and come back every Tuesday for a new tip!