Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup



Reading in English

Strategies to Support Reading

The previous section explored some contextual, instructional, and social topics related to reading in English studies. This section will describe some strategies that incorporate or address ideas that were highlighted. They are grouped by language experiences, close reading strategies, and intertextual reading. These strategies will help you work with all students, enhance their awareness and understanding of academic language, read challenging texts, and appreciate the relationship among texts that are thematically based or conceptually related. The strategies are especially helpful for English language learners.

Language Analysis Strategies

Contrastive Analysis

  • In contrastive analysis strategies, teachers demonstrate in writing and orally how one dialect, language, or informal use of speech contrasts with academic language. In these strategies, teachers provide samples of language for the class to review that come from students, YouTube, or other sources of authentic communication. One sample should be academic English. The samples are then contextualized so students know when, where, or how one is used versus the other. Salient features of the language samples are identified and recorded, sometimes using graphic organizers such as Venn diagrams or David Hyerle’s (2009) Double Bubble Thinking Map. After contextualizing and categorizing features in conversation and in writing or graphic representation, students practice the oral pronunciation of the academic sample.

Reflect: How many languages do your students speak? List as many as you can, including varieties of English.

Studying Cognates

  • Cognates are words in two languages that share a similar meaning, spelling, and pronunciation.  For example, in Spanish, the word abrupto translates to “abrupt” in English; abdicar becomes “to abdicate”; pasivo becomes “passive.” Urdu, a language spoken in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh also shares cognates with English. Examples include “cummerbund” from kamar bandh, meaning waist band or waist cloth; “cot” from Khāt; “guru” from Guru, meaning an intellectual or spiritual guide or leader—any person who counsels or advises. One way to help ELL students learn English—and assist all students in developing an appreciation for language and language diversity—is to help them identify cognates from their language and English. Teachers can introduce students to cognates by creating cards that list one word from the cognate pair or triplet and having students move around the room to locate and talk to other students whose card matches theirs. Once the pair or triplet find each other, they can talk and speculate on meaning and then verify and apply that meaning during additional language awareness activities.