ProTeacher Community - Reply to Topic

Home Join Now Search My Favorites

Post Your Reply!

KatB1018's Message:

Hello! How do you teach an EL student that is NOT LITERATE in his first language how to read? I understand that if a child has some foundation in L1 we should use their native language, if necessary, when teaching reading. But, what if a child only speaks Spanish, but doesn't read or write it? I would appreciate your thoughts, please!


Members have more posting options! Sign Up Free!
Random Teacher Question
Type a guest name (or sign up for a free account)
Descriptive Title (Please do type a title):

Additional Options
Not a member? See the great features you're missing
Did you know? ProTeacher is a FREE service

Discussion Review (newest messages first)
WGReading 12-29-2017 08:32 AM

I work at a school with a large population of newcomer (mostly refugee) ELL students. If the student is K or 1st, our ESL teacher works with the student on vocabulary development and oral language but generally the student learns to read alongside his peers.

If the student is older and monolingual (whether they read in L1 or not), they are in ESL for the 2 hours of reading block. They work on all areas of language development and also teach reading. We use CORE assessments so she does some CORE diagnostic assessments and uses the results to plan instruction. She will start wherever the students need, so if the student is a newcomer, that is often concepts of print and letter/sound correspondence. Then she monitors and adjusts pretty frequently, because the students who already read L1, who have been to school or have parents who have exposure to English tend to progress more quickly than students who have never been to school, aren't literate in L1, etc.

Obviously vocabulary instruction is super important and needs to be ongoing regardless of the student's reading progress.
I also wanted to add, since others have mentioned the importance of speaking/listening, that depending on the child's personality and culture, there is often a silent period that language learners go through where they are absorbing information but are not yet ready to attempt speaking or don't feel comfortable communicating orally. I believe the research on that is "weeks to months" but I have seen this last more than a year for some students. We have a 4th grader right now that arrived in the US (and at our school) 11 months ago from Egypt who is still nonverbal in her gen ed classroom and will only speak with much encouragement in a small group of ESL students, though she has made a great deal of progress in decoding and can show in nonverbal ways that she is understanding information that is scaffolded for her. Because of the number of newcomer students in our school, all of our teachers receive special training in language acquisition instructional strategies including incorporating visual supports, anchor charts, cooperative learning and levels of questioning that allow students to show learning even if they are not yet speaking.

Lilacs 12-27-2017 02:01 AM

I had a non English student last year at our private school (no ESL services available). She came into second grade at the end of our school year, because she should have enrolled in her country at that time of year to begin second grade. The school year there runs differently. She had lost many first grade skills during their "summer vacation" and did not read or write in her language, and did not speak a word of English. All of her instruction ended up being one on one. I taught her like an incoming kinder student learning to read. I picked the words they word learn to read and taught reading and speaking/listening skills simultaneously. We started with letters/sounds/picture anchor words (ie. a says /a/ in apple - our kinder curriculum has letter cards with pictures). At the same time, I also taught color words, number words, and shapes at the beginning since they are very helpful in describing and making sentences. The color words was helpful since she could do a color words coloring sheet while I was instructing other students. I also did prepositions (in, on , over, above). It was part of the 1st curriculum and was something she could practice with moving objects around to show the meanings. She did all of the classroom skill and drill with us. Our program also has first and second grade phonics charts (ie. ch says /sh/ in ship with photos). It made teaching new words and phonics sounds simultaneous. Calendar, Counting, number patterns, add/subt, time, money...she did with the whole class daily. I had her participate in Spelling (Say spell say, upstairs downstairs letters, etc...the kinesthetic activities). Even if she didn't learn to spell the word, she was hearing sentences to help with comprehension, and practicing letter names. I was fortunate to have a senior helper who spoke her native language in the afternoon to review concepts if needed. She did math with the whole group since that is on the board or more visual. I was also fortunate to have first and second together, so she did the first curriculum. I used kinder books that had lots of pictures, few words, and highly decodable text. Our high school had Rosetta Stone so she used that for a period in the afternoon. I was also fortunate to have two students in the room who spoke her language. I was amazed at how quickly she learned. I had to do completely modified report cards with most comments about skill development and progress. I don't think in first or second, I would teach them to read/write in L1 unless they are already fluent. The research I did online (and you will find many articles if you search) suggested that for upper elementary. It says not to discourage use of the native language...which many teachers said they ban the native language discussions. We are not looking to make them forget a language, just learn a second one. The best age to learn a 2nd language was about eight. I tried to differentiate anyway possible. Just some suggestions, personal thoughts, and a little info I found useful. Trial and error may be necessary. Some days she did have an emotional melt down. The full emersion can be overwhelming. Many short mini lessons worked best for my little friend. She also did well with other kids helping. They went over flashcards (numbers, shapes, colors, letters, phonics, counting) and read her books with her/listened to her read. The other kids loved being her helper. Give yourself some learning room. The fact your willing to try means your doing better than many other teachers might. It can be scary at first...I know I was. Your welcome to message me if you have other questions.

KatB1018 12-20-2017 01:16 AM

Thank you!!!

Tiamat 12-19-2017 12:56 PM

I would be teaching reading skills in English first if that's the main language he is being educated in. Those skills would readily translate to Spanish as he gets older if that is needed.

Once a child has a basic idea of what reading is and how it works, then learning to read a second/third etc language is much easier than learning to read the first. Using my example of my reading Italian -
even though I don't know the language, I do know all the concepts of print that lead up to reading. I understand directionality (reading left to right, top to bottom), that reading makes meaning, letter/sound correspondence and phonemic awareness, etc, are in place (maybe not entirely accurate for Italian, but enough to make a good start). That applies even when the second or third language uses a different alphabet, although not quite as easily.

sophia981 12-19-2017 12:11 PM

Agree with Tiamat. Listening and speaking should come first.

Tiamat 12-19-2017 03:53 AM

They need to be able to understand and speak some English before you attempt to introduce reading in any meaningful way. Assuming the child is young (Kindergarten age) they will learn the basics of reading with their class - with the ESL teacher is where they should be learning to say and understand.

For an older child, who for some reason has missed out in their first language education, I would still try and have them speaking first. The purpose of reading is to make meaning from print - if you don't have the language, it's pointless. I can make a reasonable go of "reading" Italian, say, but that doesn't mean I can read it in the deeper sense of the word.

Language first; reading later.

And, I do understand you will be under considerable pressure to get the child "reading", with no consideration for their actual language needs. I've been there, too. Do some basic letter/sound stuff and some sight words - even without understand recognising them will help now and also help later. I have had some success with the Spalding method for older (Year 5/6) refugee children from Afghanistan. Their education, even in their home langauge, was fragmented or non-existent, especially the girls, and Spalding is clear cut in teaching basic skills. But they still need some understanding first.

KatB1018 12-19-2017 02:53 AM

Thank you so much for your response! The student is a first grader and speaks a minimal amount of English. If he does NOT read in Spanish, should we be teaching him how to read in Spanish first before attempting Reading in English? If there is no reading foundation in his native language, then, shouldn't we just teach him how to read in English?

KatB1018 12-18-2017 10:43 AM

Hello! How do you teach an EL student that is NOT LITERATE in his first language how to read? I understand that if a child has some foundation in L1 we should use their native language, if necessary, when teaching reading. But, what if a child only speaks Spanish, but doesn't read or write it? I would appreciate your thoughts, please!


Sign Up Now

Sign Up FREE | ProTeacher Help | BusyBoard

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:07 AM.

Copyright © 2017 ProTeacher®
For individual use only. Do not copy, reproduce or transmit.