How to Teach Reading to Kids

teaching readingAuthor: Gertrude Elizabeth Greene, eHow Contributor

Reading is one of the most important skills you can teach a child. If children can’t read well, they will not be able to succeed in school and will find everyday life difficult. Teaching kids to read is a long process, often taking a year or two, but it can be a fun activity that will build a strong relationship between parents and children, or teachers and students, and benefit kids for a lifetime.

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How to Teach Reading Comprehension Strategies


1. Read to your kids. Reading aloud to children gives them a love for reading and motivation to learn to read for themselves. Start when they are babies, and read from a wide variety of children’s picture books and nonfiction books. Young children especially love books about animals. Through hearing books read aloud, kids will learn vocabulary, focused attention and the rhythm and cadence of speech. When kids are about 3 or 4 years old, begin to point to the words as you read them, or take the child’s finger and help her to point to the words. Don’t let this exercise interrupt the speed or flow of the story, or it may frustrate the child.

2. Teach the letters by the phonetic sounds they make. It is not necessary to teach the names of the letters until the child has begun to read, and it may confuse the child at this point. First teach the short vowel sounds for the letters a, e, i, o, and u, and then teach the long vowel sounds. Teach the consonant sounds. Provide plenty of practice with this stage, and do not move on until the child knows the letters well. Use flashcards, computer games, drills and copying the letters to reinforce the letter sounds.

3.  Help the child to sound out simple, two- and three-letter words that are written in large print. At this stage, consider buying a book to help further the program along. «Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons,» by Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox, and Elaine Bruner, is a very helpful book that will take your child through all the steps to reading fluently. The «Bob» books, by Bobby Lynn Maslen and John R. Maslen, are a series of short, simple readers that give children a fun way to practice sounding out words. When the child can sound out simple words, move to progressively more difficult and longer words.

4.  Teach kids to recognize common words through drills, worksheets, copy work and flashcards. Many English words don’t follow phonetic rules, making them difficult to sound out. These words must be memorized by the way they look, and they are part of a group of commonly occurring words known as sight words. Teach children the sight words from the list found through the resources section below; there are free worksheets you can print out to use as well.

5.  Help your kids practice reading on a daily basis. Keep the practice sessions short and fun. A great way to accomplish this is to read a book with your student. Let him read the words he has learned, while you read the more difficult words. Have patience if the child forgets words he knew last week or even an hour ago—a very common occurrence with early readers. Quickly tell him the word and move on. The more practice kids get with reading, the more quickly they will become skilled readers.

Ideas for Teaching Vocabulary to English Language Learners

written by: Louanne Piccolo • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 1/5/2012

Vocabulary is an important part of language learning. This article looks at how to present new words in an ESL class and the different ways to teach vocabulary to ESL students.

Why Teach ESL Vocabulary?

The elements of a foreign language are like a tree. The trunk and branches signify grammar and the leaves signify vocabulary. Leaves cannot exist without the trunk and branches and the trunk and branches serve no purpose if there are no leaves. That is why it is impossible to understand an oral discussion or written text without having acquired some basic elements of all parts of the foreign language.

Popular Methods

There are many different ways to teach vocabulary to ESL students. The most popular methods involve letting students look for definitions in a dictionary, giving a detailed description of the appearance and qualities of the word or using synonyms to make students understand the new word.

There are also other methods requiring more awareness on the part of the student and more detailed presentation on the part of the ESL teacher, such as:

using examples

using illustrations in the form of pictures or objects

demonstrating the word through acting or miming

putting the word in a meaningful context in a story or appropriate sentence

using opposites

translating the word into the students’ native language

using associated ideas


Ideas for Vocabulary Activities

While there are unlimited opportunities for learning new vocabulary in real-life situations, a classroom setting can be a difficult place to set up meaningful situations in which a student will find himself naturally confronted by new vocabulary and the need to learn or use it. The following ideas for vocabulary work in class may not be equal to authentic, real-life situations but they are useful and effective ways to teach vocabulary to ESL students.

Brainstorming: This is useful for revision and for the introduction of new words. This technique can be used as a warm-up exercise or as a way to teach new vocabulary. Teachers write a single word in the middle of the board and ask students to brainstorm any words they can think of that are connected to that word in some way. Teachers write down all suggestions with a line connecting them to the original word. At the end of the exercise, there will be a star-like diagram of associated vocabulary linked to the original word. Students will have had the opportunity to learn new words, suggested by others, that they didn’t know at the beginning of the lesson. A discussion of new words can take place at the end of the brainstorming exercise.

Identifying Known Words: This is a morale-boosting exercise in that it stresses what students know rather than what they don’t know. It also encourages student co-operation and peer teaching in class. Students are given a text and asked to underline all the words they know. They are then split into groups to share their knowledge. They must explain what they know to others who don’t, in English. At the end of the exercise, each group presents their remaining unknown words, which are thrown open to the floor for discussion and explanation by the whole class. This method is built entirely around the students as the teacher only intervenes at the end, as a last resort, if students are unable to explain a word accurately.

Fill-in the Blanks: Students are split into groups and given a text in which words have been removed. Their task is to fill in the blanks with the correct words. Teachers can provide a list of possible words for weaker groups and let stronger groups guess without a backup list. This exercise is not only effective for learning and revising vocabulary but for learning correct grammar tense usage. Teachers can use worksheets that have already been designed for this type of exercise or they can create their own fill-in-the-blank worksheets online.

There are endless ways to teach vocabulary to ESL students. In addition to the methods listed in this article, teachers can also use flashcards or put students into real-life situations where they are forced to understand the meaning of the words through the context in which they find themselves.


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