Teach English in Yanhe Zhen - Huai'an Shi

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Reading is a complex skill integral to an English language learner’s (ELL) language development. Critical reading skills are often glossed over in favor of other more visible skills and material, such as grammar, vocabulary, and speaking, or even cast aside. The ability to read texts well and to be able to use them effectively in work and academic settings is not the only important reason to develop reading skills; reading can be an invaluable tool students can use to continue their English language acquisition. When I was studying French, I found reading an indispensable technique for acquiring vocabulary and actually seeing grammar and vocabulary in use. Since then, I’ve become interested in teaching reading and how reading can help students develop whole-language English skills. During my research, I found strategies for teaching effective reading lessons that maximize comprehension, vocabulary expansion, and language development. Here I outline them below: Before reading, give context to the reading by having a lively discussion, in pairs, groups, or as a whole class, or doing a quick project, such as a word or picture collage, about a topic related to the text. Begin by presenting the students with discussion questions about past experiences or their own lives at the moment. Alternatively, make connections by having students conduct a quick bit of research online about, for example, current events or policies, related to the text. Next, have students preview the text. Ask about the source of the text (e.g., did it come from a book? a newspaper? a magazine?) and the type of text (e.g., is it an editorial? a work of fiction? a news article?). Additionally, ask questions about the author of the text: What do you know about the author? What else has that author written? What is the author’s purpose in writing this text? Who is the author’s intended audience? At this time, students should predict what the text is going to be about. Have them examine the headline, photos and graphics, and captions, and look for keywords, vocabulary, dates, and transition words like first, next, etc. to be able to make educated guesses about the text. Additionally, pre-teach vocabulary that is important to the understanding of the text. Presenting too little vocabulary will cause students to become frustrated when reading because of their lack of comprehension. However, presenting too much vocabulary will cause students to become either bored or overwhelmed by too much information. Students can also do vocabulary exercises prior to reading to practice words they will see in the text. After all previewing and pre-teaching has been completed, students read the text for the first time. While reading silently, students should focus on verifying the predictions they made before they read the text, for example, the author’s purpose and what the text was about. At this point, the students are trying to develop a working understanding of the text. After students have finished, conduct a debrief of the text to ensure all students have understood the basic ideas in the text. Students then read the text a second time--this can be done silently again or aloud as a class--for greater understanding. To help students scaffold their reading, they can use a graphic organizer to sort out their thoughts and understanding of the text. After reading, students should complete activities that verify their comprehension and expand beyond the scope of the text. To increase vocabulary, for example, students can find five unfamiliar words in the text, look them up, then share them with a partner. Students should also be able to summarize the text. Summarizing is an important reading skill in itself--students have to be able to pick out the most important parts of the text and restate them concisely--and should receive significant practice. Summarizing can be done orally with a partner or as a class or in writing. Cloze exercises, matching, reading comprehension questions, and other post-reading activities will all help reinforce what students learned while reading. More advanced students could also make their own comprehension quizzes for their classmates and have lively discussions about the text and its connection to their lives. Finally, students of all levels can do projects and write essays or complete other writing tasks that reinforce and extend learning from the text. I rarely give full reading lessons like this. However, now that I have more thorough guidelines on how to deliver an effective and complete reading lesson, I hope to practice reading skills more often and in greater depth in my future classes. Sources English Reading Tip: Post-Reading Activities for ESL Students. (2019, October 4). Retrieved from https://eslspeaking.org/english-reading-post-reading-activities/ Pesce, C. (2013, June 22). 7 Essential Reading Strategies Your ESL Students Must Know (and YOU Must Teach). Retrieved from https://busyteacher.org/15985-7-must-know-reading-strategies-esl-students.html Teaching reading. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/teaching-reading YourDictionary. (2016, November 15). How to Teach ESL Reading. Retrieved from https://esl.yourdictionary.com/lesson-plans/how-to-teach-esl-reading.html