Esl reading, reading strategies for the ESL student

 In College Life, Study Skills

The demands of learning a new language, as with English for our ESL TALK students, are not to be underestimated.  The process takes a lot of effort and time and for ESL students, but there are some useful strategies which make the learning easier. One is these strategies lies in reading.  Reading enables greater comprehension, acquisition of vocabulary while you are enjoyed following an interesting and exciting story. By taking the time to read books and developing comprehension habits, books you will improve their ESL reading comprehension and your understanding of the language.

 English-Foreign Language Dictionaries

Generally one of the best ways to learn new words is to use a dictionaryESL reading . Although the best way to understand words is through using them in sentences, and it is very time-consuming to look up each new word as you see it. Instead, create a list of words when you are reading and then once you stop reading look them up in your dictionary for their meaning.

Context Clues

By identifying contextual clues new vocabulary can be learnt. Here are some clues you can look out for.

  • Word Types: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, can be identified through these clues:
  1. Articles such as (an, the, a) are positioned before the nouns.
  2. Describing words, known also as ‘adjectives’, are placed before a noun. (Yellow flower, bright flower, pretty flower)
  3. Sentences begin with nouns, and prepositions follow nouns. (to, at, during, in, before etc).
  4. Verbs are ‘doing’ words and generally end in -ed or -ing suffixes.
  5. Most adjectives end in -er, -est,- ous, and -able suffixes.
  6. Adverbs are used to describe verbs and they generally end with -ly suffixes.

Surrounding Words: Unfamiliar terms of surrounding words provide an indication about their meaning.

  1. Generally nouns deliver insight into a verb.
  2. Verbs generally have clues about the meaning of the noun.
  3. Nouns and verbs provide insight into other words within the sentences.
  • Verb Tense: This indicates if an event:
  1. Will take place.
  2. Occurred already.
  3. Is currently taking place.
  • Singular and Plural: Is a reference to indicate if a noun is multiple or singular. Boy (singular), boys (plural).

Paired Storytelling Strategy

Translation word for word is an ineffective way for students to learn a foreign based language. ESL students have greatly benefited by the use of the ‘paired storytelling strategy’, in which the reading and writing skills are developed by working in selected groups.

This strategy is comprised of five different learning methods.

    • Incorporated cultural background of comprehension reading exercises
    • ESL students like native English speakers are taught in similar ways
    • Writing and reading skills are simultaneously learned
    • Teachers avoid using teaching methods that are discouraging
    • ESL students are encouraged to use English to communicate

There are numerous advantages to using this method. ESL students can ESL reading have the opportunity to enjoy their English practice in a group with other students in a setting that is non-threatening. Since the students work in groups, they can easily encourage their peers. During this process confidence increases as the students are not placed within areas or situations that are intimidating. While students practice speaking, they simultaneously improve their reading and writing skills. For any international students learning from the Paired Storytelling Strategy, they also have the chance to learn a new vocabulary within the context of selected paragraphs. This is one of the most beneficial advantages of using this method.

Paired Storytelling Strategy ESL teachers use this method as the following:

  1. Group Organization
  • Take the class and separate them into groups
  1. Introduce The Concepts
  • Reading assignments are introduced by writing the concepts that are to be learnt on a whiteboard.
  1. Idea Brainstorming
  • The students are helped by the teacher during their brainstorming ideas.
  • During the phase work, teachers help the students become more at ease, and help to make clear that any wrong answer is non-existent. They encourage their students to apply what they’ve learnt to new concepts.
  • Students are required to brainstorm to help the teacher assess whether they are prepared to learn any new concepts. Additional instructions may be provided by the teacher.
  1. Assignment Passout
  • Assignments are separated into 2 sections. Working in pairs, each of the students is given a different section.
  1. Read/Summarize Main Points
  • Students are required to make notes of any main points from their selected section of the assignment. Typically teachers provide readings with a few pointers to help limit confusion.
  1. Switch Lists
  • Students are required to switch their sections and their key concept lists with each other. They are then required to review the compiled list they are given. If the concepts are unfamiliar on an exchanged list, the concept will be used in a sentence.
  1. Write A Short Story
  • Using the concepts from both the lists, students will then write a short story. Students who have reviewed the first list will predict what will occur during the start of the story. The second predicts the occurrences at the end of the second story.
  1. Reading Both Stories
  • After stories are completed, the students must then read aloud their predictions. The teachers also encourage students to read what they have come up with to the class. Teachers remind other students not to ridicule each other.
  1. Compare Student Stories
  • Students are now to compare their stories with one another.
  1.  Discussion
  • Students discuss what was learnt in pairs. This helps them to become familiar with new concepts and learn from other class members. Typically, teachers take a few minutes to observe the student conversations.
  1. Assessment
  • Typically, teachers take the students and test them on what they have learnt during this phase. Each student is evaluated separately.


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