Reading Strategies for ESL/EFL Students

College Degree Finder

Learning to read a new language
is very difficult. It takes time
and effort. English as a Second
Language (ESL) students can
improve reading comprehension by
utilizing these tips:

English-Foreign Language
Dictionaries

One of the easiest ways to learn
new vocabulary words is to use a
dictionary. However, new words are
best understood within the context
of sentences, and it takes a lot
of time to look up new words.
Create a list of new words and
look them up when you’re not
reading paragraphs.

Context Clues

New vocabulary can be learned by
identifying contextual clues. Look
for these clues while reading:

  • Type of
    Word: Verbs, nouns, adverbs,
    and adjectives can be
    identified through these
    clues:

      1. Articles (the, an, or a)
      are typically placed before
      nouns
      2. Adjectives (words that
      describe nouns), such as
      large, yellow, and angry,
      are placed immediately
      before nouns
      3. Sentences usually begin
      with nouns, and nouns follow
      prepositions (at, to,
      before, during, in, etc.)
      4. Verbs typically end with
      ing or ed suffixes
      5. Adjectives frequently end
      with est, er, ous, and able
      suffixes
      6. Adverbs describe verbs
      and typically end with ly
      suffixes

  • Surrounding

    Words: Words surrounding
    unfamiliar terms provide
    indications about meaning.

      1. Nouns typically provide
      insights into verbs. For
      example: The coach used a
      whiteboard to teach his
      players.
      2. Verbs typically offer
      clues about a noun’s
      meaning. For example: The
      students ran around the
      track.
      3. Verbs and nouns also
      provide insights into other
      words within the sentence.
      For example: John documented
      the company’s meeting
      minutes in his notebook.

  • Verb
    Tense: Indicates whether an
    event:

      1. Is currently taking place
      2. Occurred in the past
      3. Will take place in the
      future

      • Singular

        and Plural: Indicates
        whether a noun refers to
        single or multiple
        entities

    Paired Storytelling
    Strategy

    Word-for-word translation is
    an ineffective way to learn
    foreign languages. Many ESL
    students have benefitted
    greatly by using the paired
    storytelling strategy, a
    method where writing and
    reading skills are developed
    by working in groups.

    The Paired Storytelling
    Strategy is comprised of these
    5 learning strategies:

    • Cultural

      background is incorporated
      into reading comprehension
      exercises

    • ESL
      students are taught in
      similar ways as native
      English speakers
    • Reading

      and writing skills are
      learned simultaneously

    • Teachers

      avoid using discouraging
      teaching methods

    • ESL
      students are encouraged to
      communicate in English

    This method offers numerous
    advantages. ESL students enjoy
    the opportunity to practice
    English individually with
    other students in
    non-threatening settings, and
    since students work in groups,
    they encourage their peers.
    Additionally, confidence
    increases since students are
    not placed in intimidating
    situations. Likewise, since
    students are required to
    practice speaking, they
    simultaneously improve writing
    and readings skills. Students
    learning through the Paired
    Storytelling Strategy also
    learn new vocabulary within
    the context of paragraphs.
    This is one of the best
    advantages of using this
    method.

    ESL teachers use the Paired
    Storytelling Strategy as
    follows:

    1. Organize Groups

    • Separate

      the class into groups

    2. Introduce Concepts

    • Introduce

      reading assignments by
      writing new concepts to
      learn on the whiteboard

    3. Brainstorm Ideas

    • Assist

      students while they
      brainstorm ideas. Teachers
      typically get students to
      think about how personal
      experiences related to
      concepts

    • Teachers

      help students feel at ease
      during this phase by
      making it clear that wrong
      answers do not exist.
      Rather, they encourage
      students to apply what
      they’ve already learned to
      new concepts

    • Teachers

      require students to
      brainstorm to assess
      whether they’re
      sufficiently prepared to
      learn new concepts. When
      appropriate, teachers
      provide additional
      instruction.

    4. Pass out the Assignment

    • Teachers

      separate assignments into
      two sections. Students
      work in pairs, and each
      one is provided with a
      section

    5. Read and Summarize Main
    Points

    • Students

      are required to jot down
      the main points from their
      assigned sections.
      Teachers typically provide
      readings with just a few
      points to avoid confusion

    6. Switch Lists

    • Teachers

      require students to switch
      sections and their lists
      of key concepts with other
      students. Students are
      then instructed to review
      the list compiled by their
      partners. When students
      are unfamiliar with
      concepts on an exchanged
      list, the teacher creates
      a sentence with the
      concept.

    7. Write a Short Story

    • Students

      are required to write a
      short story using concepts
      from both lists. The
      students who reviewed the
      first list predicts what
      occurs during the
      beginning of the story,
      while the second predicts
      what occurs during the end
      of the second story.

    8. Read Both Stories

    • Each
      student is then required
      to read aloud what they
      predicted. Teachers also
      call on students to read
      their stories to the
      class. Teachers remind
      students not to ridicule
      other students.

    9. Compare Each Students’
    Story

    • Students

      now compare their stories
      to the stories of their
      classmates.

    10. Discussion

    • In
      pairs and with the class,
      students discuss what they
      learned. This enables them
      to familiarize new
      concepts and learn from
      the insights of other
      class members. Teachers
      typically take a few
      minutes to observe the
      conversations of both
      students.

    11. Assessment

    • Teachers

      typically test what their
      students learned during
      this phase. Each student
      is evaluated separately.