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by Erica Fischer on Apr 29, 2012

Reading for Novice Learners

Welcome back to #langchat everyone!

Our last discussion on Thursday led us into an exciting chat about reading in novice language classes. With so much focus on listening and speaking, novice learners might feel overwhelmed when presented with a block of foreign text. How do we ease them into recognition and understanding?

All of our participants were eager to share innovative ideas about strategies, resources and material, assessments, and more. Thanks to Erica Fischer (@CalicoTeach) and Kristy Placido (@placido) for moderating the chat for the night!

Strategies for Success

Our educators proved there are countless classroom strategies to help your learners reach their best potential in reading. Feel free to use these helpful ideas below for a reference!

  • @placido and @klafrench start the brainstorming by suggesting cognates. Using “the power of cognates” and root words are excellent tools for novices trying to read. @klafrench even states: Cognates hold the key to reading for novices.
  • @alenord teaches their students to not read sentences in order. Students in this class first look for familiarity and then build around that knowledge.
  • @placido helps students build skills and strategies for great reading such as re-reading, underlining unknown words, guessing in context, and using cognates.
  • @CoLeeSensei utilizes a strategy called “2 & talk”, where students work in pairs to read and decode two sentences at a time. This educator says the students love the support!
  • @senoralopez gave a popular statement: It’s very important to make students understand it is not necessary to know every single word. This approach takes a lot of pressure off the students, who become free to focus on words they know.
  • Reading for information or having guided notes can also help direct students while reading, says @klafrench.
  • @Marishawkins has students predict what they think will happen in a story, which can greatly help with comprehension as well as interest.
  • Students in @CoLeeSensei’s class will sometimes draw visuals as they read, which helps this educator check for understanding.
  • @fereydoon1975 believes text should provoke learners’ curiosity. This educator rewrites the text using celebrities to motivate the students.
  • Several of our participants also agreed that pre-teaching and reviewing vocabulary included in the reading material, so students have a better chance at comprehension.

Resources for Reading

Our participants offered up some terrific resources as well, which can make reading for your students more interesting and easier to understanding. Some of these resources can be found below.

  • @tresclumnae is the founder of an online Latin learning system found here.
  • @Marishawkins and @dlfulton love to use infographics to encourage novice learners to read in their classes. You can find examples here and here.
  • @tmsaue1 uses this source to have students color code each category and then use their reading as spring board to short writing.
  • @GlblCanuck suggests using blogs to encourage reading and comprehension. The students read each other’s blogs and comment for excellent reading and writing practice.

Reading Assessments for Novice Students

There are different ways to assess reading and check for your students’ comprehension ranging from translation to pop quizzes. Many of our educators take an approach that places less pressure on the students by simply asking questions during reading or having the students answer worksheets together, although some educators refute the usefulness of worksheets, saying students will not have to fill out worksheets in real life.

The idea of translation is also debated. @placido has her novice students translate for meaning, which allows this educator to hear what the students comprehend. However, @dr dmd avoids translation for novice learners, stating the text is not contingent on L1 for meaning.

Rubric and Graphic Organizers

@senoralopez suggested Facebook rubric made with @Lauren_Scheller and encouraged participants to take a look. Looking at various rubrics can help you decide what the proper level of expectations and requirements for novice learners should be.

Graphic organizers were also suggested to help students classify information and communicate more effectively. @CalicoTeach points out that graphic organizers can help students to predict, re-tell, find key ideas, and more. This tool also works well to structure activity. Examples of graphic organizers can be found here.

Thank you!

A big thank you to all who participated in Thursday’s chat! We had a fun, fast-paced discussion that led to many great tips and ideas that just might make your students more interested in reading.

For the full archived chat and a further look into the discussion, visit our Google Docs page. Stop by and join us next Thursday at 8 p.m. EST for the next exciting discussion! If you have a topic you’re especially interested in, just propose your idea at our suggestion page.

Keep coming back to #langchat, and please join us for next week’s discussion!

#LangChat is an independent group of world-language education professionals who come together every week via Twitter to share ideas and discuss pressing issues in the world of education. Check out the #LangChat wiki for more information about our goals and the team behind it all here. These weekly discussion summaries are sponsored by Calico Spanish as a service to the world-language community.

Elementary in Spanish
Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

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