Teaching literacy skills to young children can be quite a task. Now factor in their status as English Language Learners (ELLs), and the task gets even more difficult. As a teacher, you want to showcase the literacy strengths of your students, while enhancing their weaknesses. But how can you do both, especially when your students’ native language is other than English? If you prepare and pace yourself, it can be much easier than you could ever believe. We are here to help you, so here are five research-based reading strategies for elementary ELLs.
Phonics is a key reading strategy to use with elementary ELLs, as it helps students predict the relationship between phonemes and graphemes. To further explain, phonemes are sounds that make up language and graphemes are the actual letters and spellings, which represent sounds in written language. Phonics helps your students use the relationship between phonemes and graphemes so that they can recognize words that are familiar to them and to be able to figure out words that they do not recognize. The goal of teaching phonics is helping your students learn the letters of the alphabet and their corresponding sounds and how to put them to use for reading and writing.
2) Phonemic Awareness
Phonemic awareness is another significant strategy to use with elementary ELLs, as it helps students identify and manipulate specific phonemes or sounds in spoken words. But what exactly are phonemes? The English language consists of around 41 units of sound that make up spoken language. These small units of sound are called phonemes. When combined, phonemes create syllables and words.
3) Developing Vocabulary
Developing vocabulary is also an important reading strategy to use with elementary ELLs, as having a well-developed vocabulary makes it easier for students to communicate. The more vocabulary words students have stored, the easier it is for them to begin reading and figuring out what they are reading. Practice vocabulary and encourage language development by using flashcards and other games in the classroom to make learning vocabulary fun.
4) Reading Comprehension
Reading comprehension is a necessary reading strategy to use with elementary ELLs, as it is a combination of multiple reading skills Mastering reading does not come overnight. It takes time to fully comprehend and employ additional reading skills needed to comprehend a certain text. Reading comprehension also helps students master additional skills that will help them succeed in school and in life.
Teaching fluency in reading and speaking is a necessary strategy to use with elementary ELLs, as it is pertinent for students to read and speak quickly and with accuracy. A key aspect of fluency is the ability to comprehend and recognize words at the same time. When ELL students are able to read with fluency, they typically are able to recall the text. Both guided reading and independent reading help to build fluency skills.
For more tips and ideas on how to build literacy and language skills with elementary ELLs, visit Lectura Books’ website. Here you will find helpful resources and articles, as well as a plethora of bilingual books that you can use in your classroom with elementary-age ELLs. If you are wanting to include parents for parent engagement with English Learners, you can find award-winning training and resources for parent engagement at www.LatinoLiteracy.com.