Teaching Reading to English Learners: Grades 6 – 12

Teaching Reading to English Learners, Grades 6 - 12: A Framework for Improving Achievement in the Content Areas by [Calderon, Margarita Espino, Sinclair-Slakk, Shawn M.]

I was very grateful that Shawn Slakk co-author of Teaching Reading to English Learners sent this book to me to read. The book is written by Shawn and Margarita Espino Calderon and was published in 2018. In the UK you can buy it through Amazon by clicking on the link. The book is designed for secondary school teachers and it certainly could be applied to secondary schools here in the UK and around the world.

I really enjoyed the book and got some great advice on how to support my EAL learners with reading some of the complex academic texts that they encounter at secondary schools. I was able to utilise some of the ideas in my own classroom practice and saw some positive outcomes in supporting my EAL learners with content reading material and becoming more successful readers.

There are 10 chapters in the book with titles such as:

  • Chapter 3 – Vocabulary development: Selecting High Impact Usage and Comprehension
  • Chapter 4 – Bridging Vocabulary and Reading
  • Chapter 5 – Content Reading
  • Chapter 8 – Diving Deeper into Writing

I particularly enjoyed reading and testing out their ‘7 Steps of Preteaching Vocabulary’ which is a strategy that they advise should take 2 minutes per word. The good thing about these steps was that there was no writing involved, there is lots of repetition of the vocabulary and learners are given meaningful contexts in which to use the words they are taught. It certainly was a strategy that has worked with some of my beginner EAL learners as they try to grapple with the vast array of words they have to learn in secondary school.

Chapter 5 – Content reading has some interesting ideas on the ‘different structural makeup’ of subjects and then continues with some research based strategies that the authors found supported EAL learners in diving into reading and ’emerge at the end of the text as successful readers.’ These strategies include: partnership reading and student centred Reciprocal Teaching. I have used reciprocal teaching in my practice a lot and it works as a guide to support EAL learners in developing their understanding of what it takes to become a successful reader. Our EAL learners need explicit instruction on what a successful reader does and these steps (summariser, clarifier, questioner and predictor) are outlined in this chapter.

As a specific book to help you in teaching reading to EAL learners, the book comes highly recommended. There are many great tips and pieces of advice as well as evidence and research based strategies and instructional approaches that can support your EAL learners in becoming more successful readers.

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