Thursday, June 11, 2015

Summer Reading: Book Recommendation #2

Many English Language Learners need to develop their reading skills.  Many teachers of ELLs know how to help students improve their reading comprehension.  A disconnect occurs when students need help with basic literacy skills such as developing phonemic awareness.  This is especially problematic for adolescent learners who are expected to read to learn and are supposed to have already learned to read.  But ELLs come to school from a variety of backgrounds and many of them do not have a strong foundation in reading in English, for a variety of reasons.  ESL teachers who find themselves faced with teaching students how to learn to read may not know how to approach the task.

Summer Reading: Book Recommendation #2
The English alphabet; source: Pixabay
I was one of those teachers.  Most of my students were kids who were born in the U.S. to parents who spoke another language at home.  My students grew up speaking and understanding English for social purposes but when they started school, they had difficulty with reading and writing.  I searched for appropriate materials for years—resources to teach adolescent learners how to read—but what I found was pretty much aimed at young learners and wasn’t appropriate for my older students.  It was frustrating for me to not know how to help these students.

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Then I discovered From Reader to Reading Teacher: Issues and Strategies for Second Language Classrooms, by Jo Ann Aebersol and Mary Lee Field.  It’s a resource book for teachers, not a textbook for students, and is part of the Cambridge Language Education series edited by Jack C. Richards.  The book can be used in a study group or a professional learning community or by an individual teacher on her/his own.  Combining theoretical knowledge about reading with practical examples and short exercises, this book provides a thorough foundation for teachers needing or wishing to learn more about teaching reading to ELLs.
Summer Reading: Book Recommendation #2
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From Reader to Reading Teacher opens with a short introduction and then explains what reading is and what is involved in reading in a second language.  Subsequent chapters discuss: Designing a Reading Course, Preparing to Read, Reading the Text, Reviewing Reading, Vocabulary Issues in Teaching Reading, Using Literature, Assessing L2/FL Reading, and Planning the Reading Lesson.  Each of these chapters includes short tasks for teachers to get them thinking about the ideas discussed and they all end with a section for further exploration of the concepts and a chapter summary.  The 263-page book concludes with a short chapter titled The Learning Spiral and the Reading Teacher.  Appendices include samples from reading textbooks at different proficiency levels. 

This book is a comprehensive look at what it means to teach reading and what is involved in the process of reading.  After I finished From Reader to Reading Teacher, I had a much better understanding of the issues and felt better prepared to tackle the challenge of teaching my adolescent ELLs to read.

You can read my other reviews of books that are useful for educators working with ELLs here, here, here and here.