7 Steps to Teach Reading, From Beginning to Reading Comprehension

Step 1: Teach the sounds of individual letters:

Students need to be taught the individual sounds in words and that words are made up of small parts of sound and phonemes. Recognizing individual sounds and understanding the relationship between letters and spoken sounds (phonics) create phonemic awareness.

Be sure to emphasize ending sounds as well as the more obvious beginning sounds. Listening for ending sounds is sometimes overlooked, yet it is very important.

Step 2: Teach sound blends:

Sound blends such as st, fl, dr, sh, etc should be emphasized on as well as digraphs such as ch, ck, ph. These letters together form distinct sounds or phonemes.

Step 3: Teach whole words:

Whole-word recognition or word identification is made up of being able to use sound-symbol relationships. This is an important skill that is worth the time spent to master. Word families- bat, cat, pat, sat, etc. are important in this stage. Vowels should require special attention in this stage, especially when distancing between short /i/ and short /e/ (As in /pit/ and /pet/) throughout the whole-word reading process.

We learn some sight words incidentally or in the course of everyday life. Certain words are just recognized by their appearance and EFL students can recognize and appear to “read” signs and advertisements, such as Brand Names such as NIKE, Pepsi, etc.

Here are some materials you can use to promote the developing EFL students’ identification of sight words:

  • Word games such as matching and word search games.
  • Flashcards or reader books with plenty of sight words.
  • Picture dictionaries.
  • Rhymes and entertaining poetry.

Step 4: Present meanings:

Be sure that students know the meaning of each word they read. You can use a lot of techniques to present the meanings such as drawings, pictures, miming, etc. Don’t forget to check the understanding of the meanings frequently. Be sure that students can discriminate the variations in meaning as well as go over words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings.

Step 5: Teach word parts:

It is important to teach word parts: prefixes, root words, suffixes, and derivations of words. When students know these parts, they will be able to understand more words. For example, when an elementary school student knows the meaning of “bed” and the meaning of “room”, they will understand easily the meaning of “bedroom”.

Step 6: Put words in contexts:

Encouraging students to put each word in a context is a powerful strategy. The student who can use words in sentences can demonstrate a mastery of reading and language usage as well.

Step 7: Teach reading comprehension:

Teaching reading comprehension is essential to achieve the enjoyment of reading or reading for pleasure and for understanding informational text. Several important techniques to check reading comprehension can be use. You can ask students to:

  • retell, summarize, or paraphrase what is read.
  • make inferences or draw conclusions.
  • sequence events.
  • compare and contrast, etc.

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1-min Eltt guide – How Do You Teach Reading Comprehension?

1. Pre-reading I:

  • use brainstorming or spider maps,
  • read the title and subtitles for students,
  • encourage prediction and guessing.

2. First reading should be for gist (skimming):

Pupils read silently to answer a question that aims for the general theme of the text.

3. Second reading should be for details (scanning):

Pupils read again to remember details. I would allow pupils to read questions to realize for what purpose they are reading.

4. Post-reading I: 

  • discuss the text with students,
  • ask students to evaluate the text and give opinions.

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Do You Recognize The Two Keys to Teach Reading?

Reading is described by some people as the reconstruction and interpretation of meanings behind printed symbols. Others say it is the process of understanding written language. These explanations of reading are accurate. The main point is that comprehension of written material is the purpose of reading. In fact, we consider reading comprehension and reading to be synonymous because when understanding breaks down, reading has not occurred.

The two keys to teach your students how to read:

  1. Phonics.                       
  2. Phonemic awareness.

Phonics:

Phonics is one method of teaching children how to read. Children are taught how to “sound out” new words by learning the following items:

  • Consonant letters’ sounds: b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z
  • Blend sounds: br, cr, dr, fr, gr, pr, tr, wr, bl, cl, fl, gl, pl, sl, scr, str, sm, sn,sp, sc, sk,
  • Short vowel sounds: a, e, i, o, u
  • Digraph sounds: sh, ch, th, wh
  • Double vowel sounds: ai, ea, ee, oa
  • Other double vowel sounds: oi, oo, ou, ow
  • Silent /e/
  • /R/ controlled vowel sounds: ar, er, ir, or, ur

Phonics is a series of rules that children must memorize and apply when they are sounding out new words. For example:

  • Children are taught a rule, i.e. silent /e/,
  • Next, they practice reading words with silent /e/.
  • Then, they do skill sheets at their desk highlighting the silent /e/ rule.

Children must learn letter sounds to an automatic level – they must be able to see the letter(s) and say the sound immediately.

Phonemic Awareness:

Phonemic awareness is the understanding that spoken words and syllables are themselves made up of sequences of elementary speech sounds. This understanding is essential for learning to read an alphabetic language because it is these elementary sounds or phonemes that letters represent. Without phonemic awareness, phonics can make no sense, and the spellings of words can be learned only by memorization.

Elements of phonemic awareness:

  • Rhyming: Children can recognize rhymes easily when they hear it.
  • Hearing syllables: Children can break up words into syllables.
  • Blending:  Children can blend phonemes to make words (c / a / t).
  • Segmentation:  Children hear and say the word sound by sound (ba/na/na).

P.S. For further reading on teaching your students how to read in English”, you can get my FREE eBook “Teaching Beginning Reading”

It is a practical guide for EFL teachers to teaching beginning reading and getting their students to read in English with ease and as quickly as possible. This guide tackles the following main ideas:

* What is reading?

* The main approaches to teaching beginning reading.

* The stages of teaching beginning reading.

* Sample activities for beginning reading.

* Some important guidelines for teachers to follow before beginning to teach reading in English.

When you join my Readers’ Group List, you will not only be able to get a FREE copy of this eBook but also you will be informed with new posts published on my blog. Moreover, you can choose from other teaching guides and get your FREE copy.

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Here Are My Solid Gold Ten Tips for Teaching EFL Effectively

1. Be patient:

It is not easy to learn a new language. It takes time and the leaning process has many ups and downs. Your students may have difficulties and get frustrated, so you should be patient.

2. Use your body:

Move around the classroom and interact with your students. Have an open face. Smile. A smile shows you are happy to be there. Use gestures with your arms and hands instead of speaking. Contact your students with your eyes.

3. Adjust your voice:

Take care of your voice. It is not necessary to speak loudly all the time. Use a variety of tone and volume. Avoid shouting, otherwise you will lose your voice.

4. Know your subject matter and enjoy teaching it:

Get a look at the teaching course, textbook and the learning materials. Search for more knowledge related to the course. Read books, journals, articles, etc. for on-going professional development. All the time try to enjoy what you do. If you enjoy learning and teaching, your students will likely enjoy. Do your best to leave your personal problems at home and enter the classroom with fresh and clear mind.

5. Use variety in your lesson:

Variety is the spice of life. If you do one thing one way, students will feel bored. Use variety in everything, in the way you start the class, in your ways of assessment and even in what you are dressing.

6. Be a model in pronunciation:

As you are supposed to be a non-native speaker of English, you should listen to the pronunciation of new words before pronouncing them in front of your students. However, try your best to speak to your students as if you are a native speaker. Be aware of phonemic system of English to be a good model for your students in speaking good English.

7. Have good lesson plans:

Don’t step toward the classroom without a lesson plan. Take your time to plan your lessons. It’s preferable to have a detailed plan in the beginning. You may use a general outline after that or just a few notes. Do what works for you but the most important thing is to know well what you are going to do inside the classroom.

8. Use teaching aids:

Use the board and organize it well. Use drawings on the board. Create good visual aids such as: wall sheets, charts, diagrams, etc. Use audio files, pictures and word cards. Use your body and face and any other aids that can facilitate learning, attract students’ attention and address different learning styles of your students.

9. Engage your students all the time:

Encourage students to participate during the class. Call them with their names. Use games and music to motivate them to engage in the lesson. Use the element of surprise to keep them on their toes. Use appropriate materials that are suitable for their level and interest them. Encourage interactions among them. Don’t lecture or they will fall asleep. All the time think of something unusual to do in the classroom to draw your students’ attention and engage them in the lesson.

10. Control your class:

Have an orderly classroom putting everything in its place. Create certain system or procedures to follow with the class to organize and control the students. Respect your students and get them to respect you. If you have a student who is being disruptive, talk to him first outside the classroom and if he continues to be disruptive, let the law take its course. Consider agreeing with students upon some rules to follow from the beginning of the year. Rearrange the seating in the way that enables you to control the class or do certain activities easily.


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Strategies to Achieve Reading Comprehension and Ways to Help Students Apply Them

Reading is an interactive process that goes on between the reader and the text, resulting in comprehension. The text presents letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs that encode meaning. The reader uses knowledge, skills, and strategies to determine what that meaning is.

The purpose(s) for reading and the type of text determine the specific knowledge, skills, and strategies that readers need to apply to achieve comprehension. Reading comprehension is thus much more than decoding. Reading comprehension results when the reader knows which skills and strategies are appropriate for the type of text and understands how to apply them to accomplish the reading purpose.

Reading research shows that good readers:

  • Are motivated and interested in what they read.
  • Read extensively.
  • Integrate information in the text with existing knowledge.
  • Have a flexible reading style, depending on what they are reading.
  • Use different skills when they read: interacting, perceptual processing, phonemic processing, recall, etc.
  • Read for a purpose; reading serves a function for them.

Readers need to develop the following competences during their reading sessions:

  1. Linguistic competence: The ability to recognize the elements of the writing system.
  2. Knowledge of vocabulary: Knowledge of how words are structured into sentences.
  3. Discourse competence: Knowledge of discourse markers and how they connect parts of the text to one another
  4. Sociolinguistic competence: Knowledge about different types of texts and their usual structure and content.
  5. Strategic competence: The ability to use top-down strategies as well as knowledge of the language (a bottom-up strategy)

Most students seem to think that reading means starting at the beginning and going word by word, stopping to look up every unknown vocabulary item, until they reach the end. When they do this, they are relying only on their linguistic knowledge, a bottom-up strategy. The role of the language teacher comes here to help students move past this idea and use top-down strategies as well as bottom-up ones.

Effective language teachers show students how they can adjust their reading behavior to deal with a variety of situations, types of input, and reading purposes. They help students develop a set of reading strategies and match appropriate strategies to each reading situation.

Strategies that can help students read more quickly and effectively include:

1. Previewing:

Reviewing titles, section headings, and photo captions to get a sense of the structure and content of a reading passage.

2. Predicting:

Using knowledge of the subject matter to make predictions about content and vocabulary and check comprehension; using knowledge of the text type and purpose to make predictions about discourse structure; using knowledge about the author to make predictions about writing style, vocabulary, and content.

3. Skimming and scanning:

Using a quick survey of the text to get the main idea, identify text structure, confirm or reject predictions. Then, reading carefully for more detailed information.

4. Guessing meanings from context:

Using prior knowledge of the subject and the ideas in the text as clues to the meanings of unknown words, instead of stopping to look them up.

5. Paraphrasing:

Stopping at the end of a section to check comprehension by restating the information and ideas in the text.

Language teachers can help students apply these reading strategies in several ways, by:

  • Modeling these strategies aloud:

Talking through the processes of previewing, predicting, skimming and scanning, and paraphrasing. This shows students how the strategies work and how much they can know about a text before they begin to read word by word.

  • Allocating time in class for activities to develop these strategies:

Allowing time in class for group and individual previewing and predicting activities as preparation for in-class or out-of-class reading. Allocating class time to these activities indicates their importance and value.

  • Using cloze (fill in the blank) exercises:

Use this kind of exercises to review vocabulary items. This helps students learn to guess meaning from context.

  • Asking about the suitable strategies to use:

Encouraging students to talk about what strategies they think will help them approach a reading assignment, and then talking after reading about what strategies they actually used. This helps students develop flexibility in their choice of strategies.

When students use reading strategies, they find that they can control the reading experience, gain confidence in their ability to read the language and achieve the ultimate goal which is reading comprehension.


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FREE eBook Tells You How to Teach Beginning Reading in English

Students who fail at reading in English are unlikely to do well in English exams at school, so all EFL teachers in primary schools place much emphasis on developing the reading skills of their learners.

EFL teachers in primary schools are constantly searching for effective techniques that can help them produce effective results related to getting their students to read in English as quickly as possible, that’s why I’ve decided to create this eBook.

It is a practical guide for EFL teachers to teaching beginning reading and getting their students to read in English easily and quickly.

The eBook tackles the following main ideas:

  • What is reading?
  • The main approaches to teaching beginning reading.
  • The stages of teaching beginning reading.
  • Sample activities for beginning reading.
  • Some important guidelines for EFL teachers to follow before beginning to teach reading in English.

This eBook is now available for FREE for a limited time. You just need to tell me your name, country and where to send it to you. A link to the eBook will be sent straight to your email box for FREE and I promise to keep your email address private.

I offer this free step-by-step eBook guide not only for EFL teachers but also for parents to help them get their children to read in English easily and in a short time.

Moreover, if you get your free copy and read it, you will come across with another free download on teaching EFL grammar in the classroom as another gift from elttguide.com publications.

Right now, I want you to click the button below to get started filling in the form to receive a link to “Teaching Beginning Reading in English” eBook for FREE.

With my love and appreciation
Mohamed Ramadan
Author & Teacher Trainer

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The Top Five Tips That Help Students Speak English

1. Praise them for speaking and pronouncing English well:

Encourage them to peak in English without fearing of making mistakes. Focus on the use of English and reinforce any successful attempts to produce English in real-life situations.

2. Set goals, give clear instructions and model activities:

Tell students WHY an activity is done and what objectives should be achieved at the end of each activity. Tell students HOW to do the activity and give them clear instructions. You should model the activity with one of your best students so everyone can see what they need to do and say.

3. Force students to think and express personally:

Don’t focus only on questions that require mechanical answers but surprise students with questions that force them to pay attention and think personally to give answers. This will improve the class atmosphere and not only enhance speaking but also develop listening skill.

4. Vary your activities:

Start with simple, mechanical activities, then continue with something more meaningful and finish with communicative activities. Variety is required to keep students’ attention and improve their involvement in activities accordingly.

5. Use competition to motivate students to speak:

Divide the class into teams and design a challenge for them to encourage each team to do their best to express well so as to win.


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1-min Eltt guide – How Can You Adapt Your Teaching to Different Learning Styles?

For visual learners, I should:

  • Use visual materials such as pictures, charts, maps, graphs, etc.
  • Use body language and facial expressions.
  • Use colors to highlight important points in text.
  • Encourage taking notes and provide handouts.
  • Use an illustration for main ideas or brainstorming bubbles before writing.
  • Write a story and illustrate it.
  • Use multi-media (e.g. computers, videos, and filmstrips)
  • Teach in a quiet place away from verbal disturbances.
  • Visualize information as a picture to aid memorization.

For auditory learners, I should:

  • Run class discussions/debates.
  • Make speeches and presentations.
  • Read text out aloud.
  • Use music to aid memorization
  • Discuss my ideas verbally.
  • Use dictation tasks.
  • Use verbal analogies, and story telling to demonstrate my points.

For tactile/Kinesthetic learners, I should:

  • Give frequent study breaks.
  • Encourage moving around when learning new things.
  • Use bright colors to highlight reading material.
  • Dress up my work space with posters.
  • Encourage listening to music while learning.
  • Use total physical response teaching approach.

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1-min Eltt guide – How Would You Teach a Reading Text About a Famous Person?

At the end of this lesson, students would learn about this person and write one paragraph about his or her life.

I would plan this lesson in the following steps:

1. First, I should create interest among students by asking them:

  • Do you know (the name of the famous person)?
  • What do you know about him or her?
  • What would you like to know about him/her?

2. Next, I would allow students to quickly read the text to see if it answered any of the previous questions.

3. Then, I would pre-teach potentially problematic vocabulary and phrases and give any possible practice exercises on them to check and reinforce their understanding and pronunciation.

4. After that, I ask students to read the text again for detailed information, and then I would give them some comprehension task such as:

  • Wh-questions.
  • True/false questions.
  • Fill-in-the-spaces questions.

5. At the end, I would ask students to write a paragraph about this famous person and for homework I would ask them to write a paragraph about another famous person they are interested in and know information about him/her.


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How to Read Aloud to Your Students

The reading aloud moments should be a special time when students feel comfortable sitting and listening with enjoyment. The content should be of high interest and valuable to students. The reading passage should not be too long, otherwise students’ attention will wander. In fact, the teacher needs to plan the read-aloud lesson to eliminate any problem and achieve the objectives desired.

Pre-reading activities and discussion:

  • Preview the reading text before the read-aloud and decide which vocabulary the students should understand, and you must pre-teach.
  • If there are some illustrations accompanying the text, ask students to look at them telling you what they see.
  • Write the key vocabulary on the board and present their meanings using the illustrations in the coursebook or your own drawings.
  • Ask simple questions to activate what the students already know about the topic of the reading text.

Reading the text aloud:

The first reading is usually carried out by the teacher or by a tape-recorder in order to encourage normal oral reading. The teacher reads aloud while the students listen carefully. While reading, remember to:

  • Pay-attention to correct pausing, whether indicated by punctuation or not.
  • Read in complete phrases (not word by word).
  • Adopt an appropriate speed and rhythm.
  • Don’t distort pitch, stress and intonation.
  • Read in a relaxed manner that is close to a native speaker’s natural speech.
  • During the reading, try to keep eye contact with as many of your students as you can. Eye contact will not only give you useful information about the students’ attention level, but it will also help engage the students in the text.
  • Pause during the story and point to an illustration in the coursebook to help students understand a key word or point to the pictures you drew on the board to preview the main idea of the text.
  • Use facial gestures and body gestures to indicate the meaning of the words.
  • Pose questions throughout the reading that enhance meaning construction and also show how readers can make sense of the text.

After-reading activities:

After-reading activities create opportunities for students to connect the reading materials to their personal lives, and help the teacher to explore the connections that the students have made. Some of these activities are as follows:

  • Comprehension questions:

Ask the students one or two wh-comprehension questions, the answers to which can be taken directly from the text. Relevant question and answer practice will add variety to your reading session. Fill-in-the-gaps, true-false, correct-the-mistake questions are more questions that can be used by the teacher to check comprehension and promote understanding of the reading text.

  • Student read-aloud:

Ask individual students or groups of students to read aloud the paragraphs of the reading text, one by another. Rotate the roles so that all have a chance to read a part. Encourage students to stick to stress and intonation during these readings to develop their speaking skills.

  • Summarize the text:

After reading, ask students to give you the main ideas included in the text. You can invite a brilliant student to summarize the main points in the text in front of the class.

  • Use the pictures:

You can use the illustrations in the coursebook or the drawings you created on the board and encourage students to talk about them using the information they listened to during the reading-aloud session.

  • Write one or two paragraphs:

Removing the coursebook, ask students to work in groups and write a paragraph on the reading-aloud topic tackling the main points or just writing what they can remember. Then, ask one student from each group to read aloud what they have written.


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