Teach Reading Strategies to Newcomers (ELL)

I have observed that even advanced Newcomers sometimes don't transfer their first language reading skills to English. I have taught Masters and PhD level ELLs who are excellent readers in one or more languages, yet they don't transfer their reading skills to English. Reading strategies are essential to a student's progress and academic success. Often ESL/English reading texts emphasize only one strategy per unit, however several of these can be applied to any text. I encourage students to use every possible strategy for greater understanding.
I use the Reading Strategies chart with every reading assignment for intermediate and advanced ESL students. After scanning the text, students predict what they think the article will say. Next, they skim the article and then, read it slowly for complete understanding. I encourage students to ask questions and use their own experience to identify or imagine what the text is saying. When everyone has finished these steps, students take turns reading aloud to each other in small groups of 3-4. Students alternate reading paragraphs or sentences depending on the length of the selection and help each other pronounce difficult words. (This is a excellent pronunciation exercise.)
Next, English learners define new words by using contextual clues and answer comprehension questions cooperatively. I often observe students teaching each other how to find answers in the text, In addition, I add sharing questions which ask students to identify and connect with the text by talking about their history, culture or personal experiences. Using these methods really help students to gain confidence in reading English and learning new words.

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