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11.3 Reading Approaches and Methods

durenmgmail-com November 9, 2021

Reading texts based on the student’s language

This type of reading method refers to a physical or mental picture that the student describes. It can be based on any image or just about how the student is feeling that day. It is easier to start with an image.

This task must not be complicated. For example, there is no point for students to bring in a picture of a place where they live if they do not know the words needed to speak of it.

How to start:

  1. The teacher will ask the student to describe or tell them about the picture.
  2. If the student gets stuck, the teacher will ask “either/or” questions. ‘Is he big or small?’
  3. If the student still has difficulty describing this, then the teacher will let the student perform actions such as pointing, drawing, or say what they want in their language. If this translates into something familiar, the teacher will talk about it and help them write it down. It is important that the student understands, and the teacher should not write words that are difficult or unfamiliar to the student.
  4. The teacher then writes a sentence in the student’s book based on what they have told them. It can be straightforward. ‘This is me in my room.’
  5. The teacher will let the student see them writing the sentence and say the words as they write them.
  6. The student repeats the sentence after the teacher, pointing to the words as he or she tells them.
  7. This is now that pupil’s reading tasks, which he or she can read aloud to the teacher.
  8. This sentence can gradually be built on. ‘This is me at home. It’s my bedroom. It’s blue. It’s nice. I have fish in my bedroom.’

As the student’s vocabulary increases, the teacher can slowly build up to a story. This technique of writing down what the students say helps the young students (4-6-year-olds) acknowledge that print is a way of communicating and that there is a link between the amount of talking done and the amount of writing.

Reading Development, According to Age Groups (4-6)

Younger students (aged 4-6) may take longer to learn how to read in a foreign language than older students (aged 7-9 and older). This is because they may have just begun school and are not accustomed to books or what they can use, and they will barely understand what you are talking about to follow an in-depth discussion about anything.

At this stage, they have to go through reading exercises first, such as:

  • Turning the pages at the right place, ‘reading’ from left to right, going back and re-reading the same pages, etc.
  • Picture books and sentence structure, grammar, and paragraphing will be hard to comprehend.
  • Because these students are very young, they will find it difficult to read even in their mother tongue.
  • For this age group, teachers will usually start the learning process on how to read by helping them decode messages when reading.

The more experienced English learner will make use of clues in the text, for example, paragraphing, punctuation, unique words, and references. In contrast, younger students (4-6) will look for visual clues that are essential to meaning.

Take, for example, a story written for 4- 6-year-olds. The story is about a dog called Max, who goes around looking at animals of different colours. The text below can be part of the story:

I’m a dog, and I’m brown.

That’s a dog. It’s super.

I’m a dog, and I’m super.

Without the drawings, no one will know that the dog is sad about being brown.

Let us take a look at the accompanying illustrations:

As seen above, a conclusion can be made that illustrations in a book for young children are of the same importance as words themselves.

Reading Development, According to Age Groups (7-9)

The older 7-9-year-olds reading skills will be slightly more developed. Many of these learners from this age group will already be able to read a bit in their language but will still have some difficulty transferring their reading skills to English.

Students of this age group whose first language is not English will need to spend extra time learning the mechanics of reading. However, they will already know what reading is about, making the teaching process easier than starting with younger students.

Let us look at a brief example of a lesson on testing reading skills and a few starting points. We can use Max’s Story as an example. The content of the story is as follows:

That is a bird. It is green

That is a butterfly. It is red.

That is a fish. It is blue.

That is a crab. It is yellow.

That is a cat. It is white.

I am a dog, and I am brown.

That is a dog. It is super.

I am a dog, and I am super.

  1. Teachers can start by reading the book and ensure that all students can see it.
  2. The teacher must point to the words and pronounce them as they say them to help students understand the connection between the spoken and written words.
  3. It also shows beginners what a word is because children may think that ‘butterfly’ are separate words. Teachers will need to read at a slow place, keeping their intonation correct.
  4. Students are allowed to point and ask questions while the teacher reads, but with a limit so that it will not interrupt the flow of the story.
  5. Students can be allowed to discuss the story in their language to learn from each other.
  6. After a few minutes, the teacher can ask the class questions such as, ‘Why do you think Max is unhappy?’ Do you think that the other animals were also unhappy?’ ‘What is your favourite animal in the book, and why?’
  7. The teacher can then leave the book in the corner and encourage the class to read it in their free time, silently on their own. Students do not usually get tired of good simple stories.

The teacher will re-read the story a week later and encourage the students to finish the sentence. If some of the students point to the wrong words, the teacher will need to gently guide them and point to the correct answer until they get it right.


  • Teacher: ‘That is a …’
  • Pupils: ‘Cat.’
  • Teacher: ‘It is…’
  • Pupils: ‘White.’
  • Teacher: ‘Yes. That is a cat. It is white.’

Reading with puppets

Students have an enjoyable time learning with this method and using props such as a puppet. The teacher starts by building up a short story that matches the puppet image and using the story-telling techniques already described in the Listening Section. If the teacher has already read the story about Max, a story can be made up of the puppet who does not like being whatever colour he is. This allows the teacher to keep the same structure.


  • That is a fish. It is orange. That is a bird. It is green. That is a dragonfly. It is green too. That is a panther. It is black. I am a Teddy, and I am brown. He is a Teddy, and we love him. He is great. I am a Teddy, and I am super.

The teachers’ story can now be treated in the same way as above, and teachers must remember that the story of the puppet must be incorporated with pages to turn and pictures to look at.

Following Directions: The treasure hunt

  1. For this activity, the teacher can do a hands-on activity to encourage students to read and thrive in a fun environment.
  2. Start by hiding different treasures (cards, toys, small balls, and beanies) in the classroom or the yard. Ensure this activity is supervised and the environment is safe if it is practised with younger learners.
  3. Write a simple story and include clues that will give the students an idea of where to find the treasure.
  4. Divide the students into a few groups and provide them with a map and a clue sheet.
  5. A map should be printed, or hand-drawn and unique names of the location should be included in the classroom and schoolyard so students can search without getting lost.
  6. The clue sheet should begin with short and simple text that includes hints, codes, and even secret messages for students to decode as well as the name of the characters and a simple description of the treasures. For example, if you hid a ball with a printed star on the second shelf of the classroom bookcase, you can provide the following clue:
  • It stands in a corner with lots of pages for you to read. The star is on the second floor and right under a fairy tale. The group that finds their treasure first wins the game.

Reading aloud

Most of the reading done in class is reading aloud; however, this is not the same as reading silently. Reading aloud for most people does not have that much use outside the class. However, it can be useful, especially with younger learners who are still learning a language.

Reading aloud is commonly thought of as reading around the class. This type of reading is not recommended for a few of the reasons below:

  • It is an unproductive way to use your teaching time.
  • It may be detrimental to the silent reading methods of the other students.
  • It encourages stumbling and mistakes in tone, expression, and emphasis.

However, reading aloud can be recommended as a beneficial technique when used in these situations below:

  • Reading dialogue aloud in pairs or groups is an effective way of checking work. The students can assist each other with words they find difficult to pronounce, and teachers should encourage them to have some criticism about what they sound like: ‘You do not sound very friendly, Jane’ or ‘Are you angry, John?’
  • The teacher can use methods of training and checking pronunciation and rhythm. The teacher can read a phrase or sentence, and the class or parts of the class can read it together afterward. This is particularly helpful if the text is a dialogue but should only be done briefly.
  • Reading aloud to a teacher is recommended to be done independently or in small groups. The reader then has the teacher’s full attentiveness. Reading aloud from a book lets the teacher ask meaning, what the students think of the work, how they are handling it, and correct any language obstacles. Special preference should be given to this kind of reading aloud, particularly at the beginner step for all ages. This kind of reading is not required when students advance to a higher level.

Listening to a pupil read out loud should be something fun for the whole class. If students are going to read aloud for the rest of the class, the reader must be well prepared, and others should want to listen to what will be read to them. Teachers can start by introducing what the student will be reading.

  • ‘Jane will read a story to you, that she has worked with me to write. It is about a prince and a frog.’
  • ‘Peter has written about his trip with his uncle’s boat, and he wants to read it to you.’

Silent reading

Silent reading is a skill that we use every day for much of our communication to either receive or send a message, and this is what continues with most people for the rest of their lives.

To encourage the development of silent reading, teachers should set up a hub for listening and reading allocated in a classroom. The educator can have different types of reading material such as books or even a computer for students to browse educational websites.

Building up confidence

Some students are natural readers and want to read books immediately, but teachers should spend more time growing confidence with the entire class about silent reading. Read them all a story they have listened to already and provide them a few minutes to see how far they get.

For those who are more experienced, the teacher might want to use silent reading as the starting point for the role play, for the entire class or a small group. If the book is written in dialogue, they may want to perform some of it out for the class. If this book is a story, the pupils will have to work out their parts and what they say.

Introducing new books

There are various ways of introducing new books to students, ideally, at the beginner stage.

New books can be introduced by:

  • Showing the students, the latest book and telling them what it is about.
  • Studying the book’s cover with the class and working together with the students to figure out what the book’s contents might be about.
  • Reading the students an exciting part from one of the books.

Teachers can find out what the class thought of a book, even if they stopped halfway through.

Books reviews can be beneficial to both the teacher and the students. Book reviews can benefit the class by:

  • Assisting other students to decide about the book,
  • Helping pupils to acquire a critical approach to reading material
  • Showing that teachers are concerned about what their students are reading.
  • Helping teachers decide on the suitability of a book,
  • Giving teachers some hint to the progress the student is making.

Which is the best method to choose?

No matter which approaches to reading the teacher takes, if pupils have a mother tongue, which is not based in English, the teacher will probably find that they will have to spend quite some time teaching phonics and word recognition first.