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How can teachers best help ESL
students to develop as readers?
**Information taken from Reading Rockets http://www.readingrockets.org/article/341
Five Essentials of Reading Instruction
The ability to identify phonemes in spoken words and
understand that sounds word together to make words.
• There are about 41 phonemes in the English language.
• Always teach phonemic awareness within words students are already
familiar with the meaning of.
• Work as an instructor to be aware of linguistic differences between the
students’ first languages and English (phonemes that exist and don’t exist
in the native language).
• Use a variety of activities:
• Language games
• Word Walls
Five Essentials of Reading Instruction
Using the understanding of the predictable relationship
between phonemes and graphemes to recognize familiar
words and decode unfamiliar ones
• If students are not literate in their first language, they may need to be
taught concepts and functions of print first (reading front cover to back,
writing and reading left to right, etc.)
• Having a knowledge about students’ first language can help gauge
instruction (i.e. students whose L1 is Spanish will generally need less
consonant phonics instruction and more help with vowels).
Five Essentials of Reading Instruction
The knowledge of stored information about the
meanings and pronunciations of words necessary for
• Vocabulary development is the primary factor in determining whether or
not students will comprehend what they read.
• Pre-teach vocabulary before lessons and activities
• Devote time daily for vocabulary instruction
• Remember the difference between BICS and CALP!
• Teach students strategies for determining word meanings
• Using prefixes and suffixes
• Using context clues
Five Essentials of Reading Instruction
The ability to read words accurately and at an
appropriate pace, with comprehension
• Fluency is critical for comprehension. The more fluently a child reads, the
more likely she is to comprehend what she reads.
• Students not initially learning to read in their first language should be see
and hear hundreds of books in a school year to develop fluency
• Fluency is different from reading without an accent. Fluent reading can
(and often does) include an accent!
• Two systematic approaches
• Importance of independent silent reading to practice fluency skills
• Guided repeated oral reading with instruction from teacher
Five Essentials of Reading Instruction
The ability to understand what is read.
• Comprehension should come as all four previous essentials are
• Anticipate and teach figurative language found in texts and lessons
• Don’t isolate previous essentials (vocab development, phonics, etc.)!
Expose students to authentic texts and challenge them to think critically
(comprehend!) as they are working on other reading skills.
• Graphic Organizers
• “Thinking Aloud”
Sum it up…
• When helping ESL students to grow as readers use best
practices as with other students, BUT with some special
• How does their first language differ from English?
• What kind of literacy did they develop in their L1?
• How do concepts of print differ in their written first language
A number that is greater than zero. Usually
written with a + sign.
Cualquier número en un conjunto mayor que cero escrito con un signo +
Components of Reading
Phonemic Awareness: Abilitytorecognize
• Phonemes are the smallest units that make up spoken
language that combine to form syllables and words.
• STOP has 4 phonemes (s-t-o-p).
• SHOP has 3 phonemes (sh-o-p).
• English has 41 phonemes.
• As ELLs gradually learn that words are made up of sounds,
they can build relationships between sounds and letters
• Instruction must have meaning so that words and sounds are
• Use rhyming and repetitious text such as poems or songs to
teach phonemic awareness.
• Miss Mary Mack song
• ABC song
• Dr. Seuss books
• Begin by helping students hear onset (beginning) sounds (/c/
in cat). THEN focus on other parts of the word.
• Teachers can teach phonemic awareness while explicitly
teaching vocabulary words, their meaning, and their
• Use meaningful activities
• Language games and word walls.
• Use this relationship to recognize familiar words and to
decode unfamiliar ones.
• Way of teaching reading that centers learning on how letters
relate to sounds and how to use this in reading and writing
Tips for teaching phonics to
• May need to be taught about functions of print if illiterate in
• Teachers can effectively teach phonics if they are informed
with knowledge about students background AND students’
• One of the biggest challenges to reading instruction for ELL
• Primary determinant of reading comprehension.
• Must understand meaning of majority of words in order to
• BICS vs. CALP
• Oral language proficiency vs. academic language proficiency
Children learn majority of
• Engaging in conversations (mostly with adults)
• Listening to adults read to them.
• Reading frequently on their own
*Can have negative effects for ELL students whose parents or guardians
aren’t fluent in English
**Educators need to know and incorporate ways for students to learn
-Explicitly teach vocabulary words before reading text
-Teach how to use dictionaries
- Teach how to use prefixes and suffixes to determine word
- Teach how to use context clues
Things to consider when
teaching ELL students fluency:
• Students need to learn to speak English before reading and
• Students CAN read fluently in English while having a native
• Students need to see and hear hundred of books throughout
a school year for fluency to be model for them.
• Do BIG BOOK read-alouds
• Have ELL students read with proficient readers
• Give numerous opportunities for ELL students to listen to books to
gain English fluency.
Comprehension:ability to create
meaning from a text.• Goal of reading instruction
• Mastery in other reading skills leads to comprehension and vice
• Depends on understanding of language and referents of the text.
• Provide opportunities to develop native language and English
• Teach mini-lesson about figurative and literal meanings.
• Differentiate reading instruction to fit needs and give exposure
to rich-in-text literature and higher order thinking skills
• Introduce new vocabulary before reading
• Use graphic organizers
• Think alouds
• Stop frequently during text to ask questions
Guidelines and considerations
• Need to be aware of developmental requirements
• Segmenting a compound words into its two parts
precedes segmenting syllables and sounds
• Identification tasks are easier than production tasks
• Activities should not take more than 15-20 minutes
• Selected from material used actively in the class
• Focus on literature that deals with speech sounds through
• Easily recalled
• New rhymes
• While reading:
• Comment on the language use
• Encourage prediction of sound, word, and sentence
• Comment on specific aspects of sound patterns
• Rhyme recognition can be reinforced by direct modeling of
instances and non-instances of rhyming word pairs
• Give a thumbs up or a thumbs down depending if words
rhyme or not
• Important that child repeats the rhyming pairs
• Odd word out
Isolated sound recognition
• Important for teacher to provide children with a concept of
• Can be done by associating phonemes with a creature, action,
or an object
Word, syllable, and phoneme
• Words and syllables are more directly perceivable
than individual phonemes
• Can be used as initial steps leading to isolated
phoneme synthesis and segmentation
• Clapping hands, tapping the desk, marching in
• Blend an initial sound onto the remainder of a
word, then blend syllables together and then
isolated phonemes into a word
• /l/ and ight
• Use children’s names
• Guessing games
• Advantage of combining phoneme awareness with
• Use pictures
• Say the initial sound of the item in the picture
• Identify the letter represented by the first sound
Games and Worksheets
• UP: Pronounces the onset, rime, and whole word
• DOWN: Fool Proof
• UP: Variety of sounds, letters, words
• DOWN: Must ‘click’ to check answer
• DOWN: Reveals the answer
• UP: For ELLs to learn vocab and letters/spelling
How onomatopoeias change in different languages.
Animal sounds across the
• A sample of different animal sounds around the world:
Why does it happen?
• Some linguists believe that onomatopoeic sounds were the
beginnings of spoken language
• As languages developed sounds became less realistic and more
arbitrary and symbolic.
• This would have allowed animal sounds in different languages to change
gradually as the languages themselves changed.
• Another theory has to do with the sounds themselves
• High sounds and front vowels (like i) are associated with small and
• Low sounds and back vowels are associated with large and dark things
• This theory accounts for the similarities in animal sounds across
• Other theories take into account the use of different
sounds spoken in a language.
• If certain sounds are used in the spoken language it is
natural that they would be used in onomatopoeia as well.
Sources and additional
• Information on the link between onomatopoeia and language
Big Pig on a Dig
• The lesson is designed for elementary age ENL students, and
age special ed students, or any age ENL students.
• I would have copies of the book to hand out to students to
follow along. I would also have a copy of the book.
• We would listen to the recording of the book, and pause it to
point out the -ig words.
• Next, we would listen to the 'Big Pig' song.
• Third, I would have students come up to the board and fill in
the missing word. (the oil picture is 'rig'). All of the pictures are
words that end in -ig.
• The next day, I would have students take out their copy of Big
Pig on a Dig and highlight all of the -ig words. We would listen
to the song again, and even read the book together again as
well. Repetition is a great way to learn things! :-)
Big Pig on a Dig
Rhyming pattern from ~video (-ig),
show this video to my 1st graders so they can hear the music and
rhythm and repetition of these words.
As –ig is a word family focus on during the beginning of they year it
important to show the student how these words are being changed
so they rhyme.
After showing the video I would hand a slip of paper with –ig on it
and then various letters (b,d,f,j,p,w).
I would have them lay the letters face up above their slip of paper
with –ig on it.
I would them show them a picture from the song video and have
them listen for the beginning sound of the word. So for a picture of a
pig they would have to identify the “p” sound. Then I would have
them find that letter/sound from the letter cards they have and put
it next to the –ig to create the word pig.
Then I would show them another picture, say a wig, and I would
have them identify the beginning sound as a “w”. I would then have
them look at the word pig still on their slip of paper and instruct
them to think about how they can make “pig” into “wig”. After
letting them try it we would do it together removing the “p” and
placing the “w” in it’s place making the word “wig”. We would then
discuss how “pig” and “wig” are the same.
Rhyming pattern from ~video (-ig),
What sounds do you hear in both of these words? Then I
would hold up another picture of something “big” and ask the
So if we know how to spell and say, “pig” and “wig” how do
you think we would spell “big?” They would respond, and we
would them remove the “w” and replace it with a “b” for big.
After going over the additional letter cards they have left they
would have to make all the words by themselves saying the
out loud and also writing them down in their phonics
To review at the end, I would show them the video again and
then say the word “big” and ask who can tell me another
word that had an –ig at the end. My goal would be to have all
these student be able to tell me all the 6 words they made
today in the –ig family and how they relate to one another.
When a vowel is followed by an “r,” the vowel sound is neither long nor
short but has its own sound. For example, “ar” says /ar/ as in car; “or”
says /or/ as in fort; and “er,” “ir,” and “ur” all say /er/ as in fern, bird,
To teach this rule, I will find 20 words in our daily readings for the
week and use direct instruction to teach them.
I will teach the words one at the time by saying the word, having the
students repeat, calling on individuals to syllabicate and identify the
vowel with the /r/, and then calling on individuals to say the sound it
I will assign a “Pick The Fit” activity for homework. It will list other
words (not the 20 we are focusing on), and my students will
distinguish between the words that fit our phonics rule and those that
Extra credit will be given to students who come up with examples of
additional words that fit the vowel followed by an /r/ rule.
We spend about six weeks memorizing the different vowel sounds
and incorporating the spelling patterns as we encounter them in
our daily work
Once we memorize the sounds, I will give the students a list of
words at their level to write (I give the words orally) or tell me (I
write the word for them and do not pronounce it) where it would
go on the chart.
I have made Bingo games for the students to practice finding the
sound when given orally, provided them a blank chart to write the
sounds when given orally, and had them pair up with a partner to
When they get a match, they have to tell the sound correctly in
order to keep it or the partner can steal the match. If neither
partner can tell the sound, the cards go back into the game face
I am working on a Go Fish card game where the students will have
to ask for the sound and the partner will have to find a word that
matches that sound.
Pick one phonics generalization for the week When picking one to
study for the week, I would tie it in with read alouds for the week.
Next, find books that tailor to this phonics generalization... a.k.a.
books that have several examples of those types of words. For
example, if I were teaching Phonics Generalization # 2 "Words having
double e usually have the long e sound", I would look through age
appropriate books to find one that has a bunch of double e words. As
far as I know, there is no specific way of doing this. Just flip through
books until you find one that has at least five of those words. Of
course, the easier way to do this is to pick a book and then see what
phonics generalizations it has in it! In the class that I am teaching we
have books already picked out, so I will use each chapter and find a
rule that applies.
After introducing the phonics rule to your child, let them explore the
book to see how many words they can find that follow the rule. Make
a list of all the words they can find. This could be a word wall that they
could refer back to.
After you complete your list, have a more in-depth discussion about the phonics rule. For
example, I might say, "Let’s look at the word seed. Let’s pretend we are reading a book and
seeing the word for the first time. Let’s sound it out. Se-ed. Do you hear the long e sound?
Yes, when there is a word has double e, it usually has the long e sound. Okay, I want you to
work with the person sitting next to you. You are going to look through the book again and
find words that have double e. When you find a word, try to read it aloud.“
Let students work with a partner to search for words and practice using their new
skill/word knowledge aloud.
Next, it is important to link this skill to what else students might be working on in reading
workshop, independent reading, or at home. (Studies show if we connect what we learn to
what we already know, we have a better chance of remembering the new information and
connecting it to other knowledge in the future.) One way to do this is to let students go
through their daily reading books or textbooks to find other examples of the phonics
generalization in other books. Before students search through their books, ask them what
should they do if they have trouble reading a word (in this case a double e word). They
should remember the phonics generalization and the sound/s it teaches them.
Finally, bring closure to the lesson. Have students share what words they found and add
them to the list from earlier. End with reminding students that whenever they come across
a word that follows that rule to remember the sound/s it makes!
Mini Lesson #1:
Practice with onset and rime.
Alliteration and assonance are both taught in 4th grade. I teach them when we study figurative
language. The students always enjoy this unit. I think it would be very easy to find/create some
tongue twisters using content from math, social studies, or science. The students would love to
create these. The tongue twisters could be said during transitions or when lining up to leave the
Mini Lesson #2:
I have had many ENL students struggle sounding out words and being unable to identify sounds
within words. I have in the past drawn make-shift boxes like the Elkonin boxes. This is something
I learned in Reading Recovery. In Reading Recovery, we used magnets to ‘push’ the sounds into
the boxes. Well, it isn’t feasible to always have magnets available for students, especially when
doing on the spot reading. I like that this lesson uses small chips to ‘push’ up the sounds. This is
something I will do when reading 1:1 with students, or when a student is having difficulty
reading a word.
Mini Lesson #3:
Compound Phonemic Awareness.
Word to Word Matching.
The ‘SNAP’ activity they explained could easily be modified to work with Words Their Way.
Students are assigned a specific category. For instance, a group of students might be practicing
long a and short a words. A pair of students would play the game identifying the words that fit
into each category. When the student has mastered the category, they can take their cards
home to practice.
I would start the first day of school and class and go around the room and learn
names and the phonology of their names.
After the students introduce themselves, I would have the students clap for
each syllable as they speak aloud to develop syllabic awareness.
First I would have them begin with their own names.
Next, go round the circle and discuss how many children have first names with
one, two or three syllables
I would have each of their names on a worksheet divided with boxes and
spaces to put their classmates’ names in on the worksheet so they can visually
see how their names are spelled phonetically on paper.
I would have them use marker to color code the differences in the syllables.
My aim is to improve student recognition and pronunciation of each students
name in class.
Level- could be any level needing to improve pronunciation skills.
After learning names- I would continue the lesson on the theme of the week
and the words that we are going to learn to build with syllables and blocks.
I would use would education.com as a resource
Find letter cards at: www.education.com/worksheet/article/letter-cards/
Phonetic Alphabet Chart
In order to help students understand the spelling and
pronunciation of the words that we study
I would have them look at the phonology of each word.
Leading up to this lesson, we would practice the phonemes with
flashcards, playing games to get the students more invested in
After they were comfortable with the sounds, I would use them
with a vocabulary study.
we would go over the words and definitions, and discuss their
For an assignment, I would provide students with the phonetic
alphabet chart and ask them to write each word along with its
The next day, I would have my students get into groups and share
their homework, and then I would have some volunteers share
what they came up with to the class.
Multiple meaning words are difficult to interpret sometimes for my ELL students.
As a lesson I would do a class book. I would model with reading a book that contains
some words the children could use. The King Who Rained, How Much Can a Bare
Bear Bear,A Chocolate Moose for Dinner,(always a funny one!)
I would focus in on multiple meaning words such as bat, sink, can, kid, seal, wave,
I would have the students see if they can brainstorm in small groups. They would
have markers and a sheet of paper.
Then we can all come together and put our words on the board.
From there the students will choose one word, talk with a partner about what the 2
meanings are for the word.
Then each student will draw a picture of the what the word means, label the picture,
and use it in a sentence correctly. Example: My brother uses his favorite bat at all his
baseball games. The picture would be of a boy using a bat. The other picture would
be the mammal bat perhaps flying or hanging upside down in a cave. The sentence
would be....Bats are nocturnal animals that eat mosquitoes.
I would choose a word and do an example on the board then explain they could not
use my word.
When our class book is finished I would bind it and have each student read the page
they wrote as I filmed it on my iPad using iBook. When finished each child would get
a turn to read and listen to the book on the iPad. This helps with meaning, syntax,
fluency and it is fun!
Differentiating subtle sounds in words
Supplies: letters for each student- e i n r t w, pocket chart, flashcards with the words written
below in bold print, pencils and paper or dry erase boards and markers.
Students will arrange the letters to make the words as the teacher says them.
Make the 2 letter word in.
Add 1 letter to make it say tin.
Change one letter so it says ten.
Rearrange your letters to make the word net.
Change one letter to make the word wet.
Change one letter to make the word wit.
Change one letter to make the word win.
Add a letter to make the word twin.
Change the i to an e. Now arrange your letters to make the 4 letter word went.
Change one letter to make the word rent.
Change the i to an n. Arrange your letters to make the word tire.
Change one letter to make the word wire.
Go back to the 4 letter word twin.
Add a letter to make the word twine.
Use all of your letters to make a secret word (winter).
Differentiating subtle sounds in words
Post the words on flashcards on a pocket chart as the students make their
words with their letter cards. Now have the students (as a class) sort
the words. Students will read the words that are sorted.
-Words that end with –et.
-Words that end with –in.
-Words that end with –ent.
-Words that end with –ire.
Now have the students use what they have learned. They
need to write the following words. If they can
spell net and wet they can spell set and pet.
If they can spell in, tin, win and twin, they can
spell pin and spin.
If they can spell went and rent they can spell bent and dent.
If they can spell tire and wire they can spell fire and hire.
1. I would start the mini lesson by having different sets of words at each
table group (words ending in -ig at one table, -ick at one, and -ill at
another). The students would have time to set out the cards and explore
them. This would get their minds curious about the mini-lesson.
2. Next, the students would have 2-3 minutes to discuss what they
thought the words had in common, what they meant, and if they knew
the words or not. The words could be adjusted by grade-level,
content/subject area, and skill level of the students.
3. We would then come together as a whole-class and I would show the
students a YouTube video on phonics ending in -ig, for example. We
would then discuss the meaning of the -ig and what happens when the
prefix letters are changed.
4. Students would then get the opportunity to go to different stations
around the room to explore word work with different endings. For
example, they could watch a phonics song, use shaving cream to write
out different words with the ending of their choice, etc.
5. For an extension activity, students could work in groups/partners to
make a phonics rap/jingle. Word groups would be provided if they
Rate This Presentation
I learned more about Phonology
The material was presented in an engaging way
I could see how connections can be made from this
presentation with our ENL students
I am excited to use these mini lessons!
Questions or Comments
Add your questions, comments and suggestion by replying to the post
Adger, Carolyn Temple; Catherine Snow & Donna Christian, eds. (2002) What Teachers Need to
Know About Language.
Antunez, Beth (2002) English Language Learners and the Five Essential Components of
Reading Instruction. http://www.readingrockets.org/article/341/
Crystal, David (1997, second edition) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Languages.
Andrews, Larry. Linguistics for L2 Teachers. (2001). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum
Finegan, E. (2008). Language Its Structure and Use. (Fifth ed.). MA: Michael Rosenberg
Freeman, David and Yvonne. Essential linguistics. Heinemann. Portsmouth, NH: 2004
Reading rockets http://www.readingrockets.org/article/388/
Videos for phonology from the web