How to help students with reading and L2 acquisition
Friday, May 14, 2021
Reading needs to be a part of any language course.
Reading is an important part of L2 acquisition. The more students have access to interesting reading material outside of the textbooks, the faster L2 acquisition will take place (Magrath, D., July 19, 2019).
Teaching hint No. 1: Group work
Group work is especially helpful. In the case of online learning, students may feel isolated, but with the internet they can work together in small groups.
Mastering working in groups virtually will take some practice before most students become pros, but relatively quickly the experience will keep them engaged in enhancing their communication and problem-solving skills. Teachers in kindergarten to second grade will need to encourage parents and guardians to log in to assist learners with navigating the tech. Older kids can learn to schedule their own teamwork time once they are comfortable using the Zoom app independent of their teachers (Valenzuela, J., July 17, 2020).
Teaching hint No. 2: Children
Children want to understand how things work and why things are the way they are.
Children have a burning urge to understand the mechanics of the world around them, and frequently bombard parents and teachers with questions about how and why things work the way they do (sometimes with embarrassing consequences). Researchers have been aware of children's appetite for causal information for some time. However, no one had previously linked this phenomenon to real-world activities such as reading or learning (Frontiers 2020, April 15).
Providing motivation for children is important for learning, and it is especially for L2 learning. Reading is an excellent way to motivate children to learn both inside the classroom and beyond. In a test study, children had more motivation to read passages with causal information.
The children appeared to be equally as interested and enthusiastic while reading either type of book. However, when asked which book they preferred they tended to choose the book loaded with causal information, suggesting that the children were influenced by this key difference (Little scientists: Children prefer storybooks that explain why and how things happen).
Vocabulary is the key to reading. A good way to help learners is to connect the new words to words they already know.
Brainstorming: This is useful for revision and for the introduction of new words. This technique can be used as a warm-up exercise or as a way to teach new vocabulary. Teachers write a single word in the middle of the board and ask students to brainstorm any words they can think of that are connected to that word in some way. Teachers write down all suggestions with a line connecting them to the original word. At the end of the exercise, there will be a star-like diagram of associated vocabulary linked to the original word (Piccolo, L., 2020).
Teaching hint No. 3
Reading and writing are connected skills and should be taught together. Each one supports the other.
In the process of maintaining these discrete skill strands in many ESL curricular programs, we have prevented students from moving forward in programs in a reasonable amount of time while simultaneously perpetuating the myth that reading and writing are separate and discrete skills that should be taught as such (Singhal, M., November 9, 2020).
A student can be a good writer as far as topic development and organization, but grammatical mistakes can ruin an otherwise good paper or report. Also, lack of grammar skills can cause one to misread a passage or draw the wrong conclusion.
After 20 years of teaching academic writing to both native speakers and English language learners, I can attest that at some point, just about everyone asks me why, or even whether, grammar matters. (Britt-Smith, L., January 20, 2021)
Reading needs to be a part of writing classes. Extensive reading exposes learners to different styles of rhetoric and helps with vocabulary development. Reading should go beyond the reading textbook to include classroom sets that students can borrow to read at home because they are interested in the subject matter of the story lines in the case of fiction.
There are numerous academic benefits to the integration of reading and writing. Consider how reading can inform writing. Reading introduces students to a variety of texts, genres, and writing styles, expanding their knowledge of language. Reading also exposes students to much more content knowledge, inspiring new ideas and perspectives (Connecting Reading with Writing).
Make it interesting. Incorporate literature, especially those works that reveal aspects of the L2 culture.
Incorporate literature and tailor writing assignments around it, such as literary analysis that involves constructing an argument about an issue or theme in the text and supporting that with evidence from within the text and outside research. Be sure to teach effective researching skills and documentation of sources (Connecting Reading with Writing).
Reading and writing are both essential. Teaching reading and writing together helps students with personal growth. Writing takes it a step further in that writing encourages students to be independent thinkers and communicate to others. Reading is a good start, but writing allows learners to present their own ideas as authors (Sprayregen, M., July 9, 2019). Writing is more
than an assignment. Students are already writing on internet sites and email, and it is essential to teach proper academic writing so that their essays and later business correspondence is not full of abbreviations and errors (Is teaching writing as important as teaching reading?).
Reading helps learners prepare for deeper academic study. They learn to analyze passages, find out the authors’ reasoning process and point of view. Students also learn how to identify rhetorical styles.
Reading also allows for the development of analytical skills, which results in a deeper, more mindful reading. These can include activities such as examining the evidence or arguments presented in a text, the effectiveness and reliability of the evidence itself, the interpretations made, the hidden agendas of the writer, if any, and whether the evidence and argument support the conclusions. Finally, reading illustrates models of excellent writing, offering students writing instruction in organization, evidence, syntax, vocabulary, purpose, tone, voice, audience, rhetorical appeals, and language (Singhal, M., November 9, 2020).
Reading is not just a passive activity; rather it is an active skill where the reader interacts with the text bringing many different skills into the process. Reading is "doing" as well as "receiving." It is a physical activity. Reading is essential. It is linked to the other skills students need to succeed in the academic world and the world of work.
The readings should correlate to the students’ interests. If a student is interested in a topic, try to harness that, even and maybe especially for students who are reading below grade level. If they are interested in the Civil War, for example, get them started with simple texts about it (Henderson, D.& Kerns, G., December 6, 2019).
Encourage learners to get a library card or use the school library. A field trip to the library is an excellent activity where students can find books, magazines and newspapers where they can read articles that interest them rather than reading because it is just another assignment.
Our world is becoming more complex, and the pace of life is getting faster. To handle this situation, students need good reading skills more than ever, often in more than one language.
Our world is becoming more connected and moves at an ever-increasing pace. Undeniably, literacy is a strong determinant of individual and social success, no matter what life brings (James, N., April 16, 2021)
Reading creates dreams and stimulates the imagination. It opens up whole new worlds. For those who can read in L2, they can experience new cultures and world views without having to leave home and if they are already in a new country, they can more easily learn the new culture and be able to around much more easily.
For a lifetime, it connects individuals with the information they want and need. It fosters adaptability and reduces uncertainty. It encourages civic participation and public discourse. It allows for discussion and informed debate. Reading proficiency is a gift that be easily taken for granted (As schools reopen, reading education must be priority).
A strong foundation in reading skills will make it easier for ESL students to improve their writing skills and build up their vocabulary which will transfer to their speaking and listening skills as well
Britt-Smith, L. (Accessed January 20, 2021) Why does grammar matter? The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/why-does-grammar-matter-150920
Frontiers (2020, April 15) ScienceDaily, Little scientists: Children prefer storybooks that explain why and how things happen. Retrieved April 28, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200415084312.htm
Henderson, D. & Kerns, G. (December 6, 2019) All you need is read, Language Magazine https://www.languagemagazine.com/2019/12/06/all-you-need-is-read/
Magrath, D. (July 19, 2019) Reading and L2 acquisition, MultiBriefs Exclusive, https://exclusive.multibriefs.com/content/reading-and-l2-acquisition/education
James, N. (April 16, 2021) Eastern Florida State College, As schools reopen, reading education must be priority Orlando Sentinel, Opinion V 145 No 146
Piccolo, L. (2020) Popular Methods, Bright Hub Education, https://www.brighthubeducation.com/esl-lesson-plans/73147-ways-to-teach-vocabulary-to-esl-students/
Singhal, M. (November 9, 2020) Connecting Reading with Writing, Language Magazine, https://www.languagemagazine.com/2020/11/09/connecting-reading-with-writing/
Sprayregen, M. (July 9, 2019), Is teaching writing as important as teaching reading? The Associated Press, https://apnews.com/d979419d6c29446f88d1958afb2312ab
Valenzuela, J. (July 17, 2020) Simple ways to improve online instruction, Edutopia, https://www.edutopia.org/article/2-simple-ways-improve-online-instruction
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