Category: Teach Reading

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.

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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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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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Why You Should Read Aloud to Your Primary Students

Reading aloud is an important component of the primary level English lesson. The teacher usually reads aloud stories or conversations while the students listen or follow in their books. When you read aloud to your students, you help them to find pleasure and enjoyment in the new language, promote their understanding and encourage them to read independently. Here are the main five advantages of teacher reading aloud in the primary classroom.

1. Reading aloud provides a reading model:

It is essential that the students at the elementary level hear a model of correct pronunciation, stress, and intonation. You can encourage students to point to the words as you read aloud. In this way, you model the reading process and promote development of print concepts, the alphabetic principle, phonic knowledge and sight vocabulary. Reading aloud fiction is powerful as it engages students’ imaginations and attention, gives them experience with stories from other cultures, helps them to learn how various kinds of literature are organized, and motivates them to read further in the new language.

2. Reading aloud enriches students’ vocabulary:

Reading aloud in EFL class can expose students to a wider range of vocabulary. The teacher can add synonymous and antonymous for vocabulary found in their textbooks. Students’ vocabulary improves when the teacher reads folk tales from their own and other cultures, fairy tales, fables, and non-fiction material about the world around them. The illustrations in these stories help students to make guesses about unknown vocabulary. Talking about the story afterwards engages students in using this new vocabulary in a natural way.

The amount of vocabulary, language acquisition and students’ oral language proficiency in English are all developed in the classroom when the teacher reads aloud to students in rich environment surrounded by pictures, gestures and other explanatory and visual aids.

3. Reading aloud establishes the reading-writing connection:

Reading aloud can lead the learners to understand the many purposes of the printed word: to inform, to persuade, to entertain. In this way, the teacher involves students in the various functions of print. In addition, it can reinforce the visual image of the target vocabulary during the early stages of reading. When reading fiction aloud, we encourage students to enter into the meaning-making process which is the essence of reading.

4. Reading aloud improves listening comprehension:

The purpose of reading aloud in the elementary stage is to facilitate comprehension for beginning English language learners so that they may enjoy the language. Young learners enjoy listening to stories. Reading aloud attracts students’ attention. You can help your students listen and comprehend by stopping at certain places in the book to discuss a picture as it relates to the story or to review the plot. You may also focus comprehension by asking prediction questions as you go along. Don’t be afraid to read stories more than once. Students learn from and enjoy the repetition.

5. Reading aloud promotes joy during the language lesson:

When the teacher reads a story aloud, students get into a magical world. They are removed from their everyday lives to different places and different times. They are introduced to characters who are larger than life and to opportunities to experience adventure and magic. Here are more five advantages of reading aloud to your primary students especially stories.

  • Reading stories aloud helps students to cope with their own emotions and to feel that they are a part of the world
  • Reading stories aloud makes concepts vivid and clear by illustrating them rather than simply explaining
  • Reading stories aloud can help the lesson be alive for
  • Reading stories aloud will motivate students to try to understand the new
  • Reading stories aloud can enhance your students’ imagination & ability to speak well.

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A Lesson Plan to Teach the English Novel

Objectives:

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Read for fun skimming and guessing the meaning of difficult words.
  2. Read for scanning and answer some questions on details of the chapter.
  3. Answer the questions on the chapter on the textbook.
  4. Act the scenes included in the chapter.

Teaching aids:

Set-book, Class board, mind mapping, video film, …….. etc.

Learning strategies

Individual, pair and group work, Playing roles, Analysis, Summarizing, …

Warm up (Reviewing):

* Ask about the author and characters of the novel, and the location(s) where the events happened.

* Remind students with the main events of the previous chapter.

* Ask some questions on the main events of the previous chapter.

Presentation (Viewing):

* Target Vocabulary:

* Target Structure:

* Target Function:

Steps of Introducing the New chapter:

  1. 1. Before reading, ask students to guess (expect) what events are going to happen.
  2. Write one or two questions on the board on the main points of the chapter at hand and ask students to read silently and quickly the chapter to answer these questions and underline any difficult words.
  3. After answering the pre-questions on the board, give students a general idea of the chapter , presenting the new vocabulary through using synonyms, antonyms, mind mapping, full sentences, real situations and deal with target structures and functions if found.

Practice:

  1. Write more questions (different types) on the board on details or ask students to read the questions on the chapter on the textbook. Then ask students to read again the chapter but carefully this time to answer the questions they’ve read. Students can work in pairs to answer the questions.
  2. Elicit the answers from students.
  3. Show students the scenes of the chapter on a video film (if found).
  4. Divide students into groups and distribute the roles among them to present the scenes of the chapter.
  5. At the end, some students come to the front and present a summary for the whole chapter using, First, Secondly, Next, Then, Later, Finally, ……

Assessment:

* Ask: What have we learned today?

* Ask some questions to elicit the main events.

* Ask students to write a summary for the chapter as a homework assignment.

* Assign some more questions on the chapter for students to answer in writing at home.

* Ask some critical thinking questions on the chapter.

Previewing:

* Specify the next part (chapter) of the novel for students to read.

* Write one or two pre-questions (different types) on the next part or chapter and ask students to answer them after reading at home.

Self-Evaluation:

* Students enjoyed reading for fun, skimming and scanning. Or

* Techniques used were suitable and objectives were achieved. Or

* Students need revision and more practice on the chapter at hand.

Questions to Consider Before Starting a Reading Lesson

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Before staring your reading lesson, you should think about the following questions:

  1. What is the purpose of the reading passage? Is it to improve your students’ reading skill or to reinforce structure or a kind of vocabulary or is it only for pleasure?
  2. On average, how many new words are included in the passage and how will you deal with them?
  3. When introducing the text, who will read? You, students aloud or students silently?
  4. In the textbooks which you use, are there questions checking your students’ comprehension of the reading passage?
  5. Are the questions in any sort of order? e.g. from easy to difficult or ordered according to the parts of the reading passage?
  6. Do the parts of the reading passage, which provide the answer to the questions, follow the same order as the questions themselves?
  7. Are the questions you will use, general or specific?

* General questions check your students understanding of the central idea of the whole text.  Usually students have to read most of the text to be able to answer the general question.

* Specific questions, however, focus on some points of detail.  Students can answer these questions by reading one sentence or one part, for example.

Teaching Reading Comprehension

The importance of teaching reading:

Teaching reading in the English language course should include the following set of learning goals:

1- enable students to read a wide range of texts in English.

2- develop awareness of the structures of the written English texts.

3- develop the ability of criticizing the content of texts.

4- practice different types of reading according to the purpose of reading.

5- exposing students to different types of texts to build solid knowledge of the language and to facilitate reading in the future.

Four types of reading:

1- Skimming: reading for the gist or the main idea of the text.

2- Scanning: reading to find specific information.

3- Extensive reading: reading for pleasure and general understanding.

4- Intensive reading: reading for getting the details.

A good reader:

Reading research shows that a good reader should:

1- be able to read extensively as well as intensively.

2- integrate information in the text with existing knowledge.

3- be able to use the two models of reading in processing a text.

4- be able to skim or scan a text depending on what he reads and the purpose of reading.

5- read for a purpose. His reading serves a function.

Why a person reads? A person may read in order to:

1- gain information.

2- verify existing knowledge.

3- criticize the writer’s ideas or the writing style.

4- enjoy oneself.

5- get specific information.

Three models of reading:

1- A bottom-up model: it emphasizes part-to-whole processing of a text. According to this model the readers should:

* identify sounds.

* recognize letters.

* link sounds.

* combine letters to recognize spelling patterns.

* link spelling patterns to recognize words.

Then proceed to sentence, paragraph and text-level processing.

2- A top-down model: it suggests that processing of a text begins in the mind of the reader by driving the meaning. According to this model the readers should:

* comprehend the text even though they don’t recognize each word.

* read primarily for meaning rather than mastery of letters, letter/sound relationships or words.

* use the whole meaning and the grammatical cues to identify unrecognized words.

* use meaning activities rather than a series of word recognition skills.

* read sentences, paragraphs and whole texts.

* gain the most amount of information through reading.

3- An interactive model: this model emphasizes the interaction of bottom-up and top-down process simultaneously through the reading process.

Three stages for teaching reading comprehension:

1- Stage One: Before reading ( pre-reading ):

* establish a purpose for reading ( e.g. answer a pre-question )

* activate prior knowledge.

* present new concepts and key vocabulary.

* ask students what information they predict to be included in the text.

* preview the text.

2- Stage Two: During reading:

* students read, comprehend, clarify,  visualize and build connections.

* students integrate the knowledge and information they bring to the text with new information in the text.

* pay attention to the structure of the text.

* read to achieve the purpose for reading.

* think about answers for certain questions.

* determine the meaning of unfamiliar words and concepts.

3- Stage Three: After reading ( post reading ):

* students expand prior knowledge, build connections and deepen understanding.

* students show their understanding of what they have read by answering some comprehension questions.

* evaluate the value and quality of the text.

* respond to the text by discussing its main ideas.

A helpful guide for types of questions to be asked before and after reading:

Bloom’s Taxonomy: reading activities and questions should take into account the six-level hierarchy of skills that Bloom suggested in his taxonomy. They are as follows:

1- Knowledge: includes recall or recognition of information.

2- Comprehension: includes explain, describe or rephrase the text.

3- Application: apply the information learned in the text.

4- Analysis: make inferences or derive generalizations.

5- Synthesis: combine several ideas.

6- Evaluation: judge the value or importance of the text.

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