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April 25. 2017

Six ways to help English language learners benefit from shared reading: A Teacher Tip from Fountas and Pinnell

From the very simple texts that kindergartners and first graders read in a shared way to the more sophisticated poems and readers' theater texts that upper elementary and middle school students enjoy, shared and performed reading are highly productive for English language learners. Here are some suggestions for helping English language learners benefit from shared and performed reading:

  1. Select texts for shared reading that have simple, easy sentences. Learning a new language is much more than decoding words. English language learners are learning new syntactic structures, and they need to absorb simple sentence patterns before they go on to complex ones. 
  2. Once a shared reading text is learned, it becomes a language resource for your students. You can use it as an example, revisiting the text to help children remember specific words or phrases. Individuals can refer to it to recall vocabulary or pattern their own writing after the language structures.
  3. Rhythmic and repetitive texts are beneficial to English language learners. The repetition will give them maximum experience with the syntax of English and will help them develop an implicit understanding of noun-verb agreement, plurals, and other concepts.
  4. Personal poetry books made up of poems used in shared reading are texts older learners can return to again and again to revisit meaning, vocabulary, and language structures. Rereading this material, even overlearning it, will support fluency.
  5. If you are able to find some traditional rhymes or songs from students' own languages, you can use these for shared and performed reading. If they are not too complicated, all students will enjoy reading them in a shared way. 
  6. English translations of traditional rhymes or songs in students' native languages are a great resource. Try "echo" reading with one group reading a line in English and the other group echoing the line in the other language.


Adapted from Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2006 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann. 

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