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7 Tips to Improve Your ESL Students’​ Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension is an essential skill for learning. When students develop the ability to understand written text well, they become capable of learning anything on their own. 

In a previous article, we shared with you various activities to improve your ESL students’ listening skills: 7 Fun Activities to Improve Your ESL Students’ Listening Skills

This week, we present you with seven tips to improve your ESL students’ reading comprehension! 

Tip #1: Set reading goals. 

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Reading is a skill that is built overtime, not overnight, so help your students set reading goals to read at least for a certain amount of time every day. Just like how going to the gym builds your muscles and physical health, reading every day strengthens your ability to interpret written text and also could be quite beneficial to your mental health. 

Tip #2: Provide reading materials that relate to your students’ lives. 

Everyone is more interested in reading things that are related and directly applicable to them. It’s always a good idea to get to know your students early on. Ask them about their interests and incorporate those interests in the reading materials. If your students are interested in traveling, present them with articles about traveling. If they are immigrants, have them read stories about other immigrant families.

Tip #3: Ask your students to annotate and highlight the text.

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Being able to identify valuable information in a sea of text is crucial. Often, we may read something and have no idea what the page was talking about. If you photocopy a reading for your students, ask them to use different colored highlighters or pens to highlight important information. This skill will help them for the rest of their lives no matter what they’re learning or what written tests they’re preparing for. 

Tip #4: Have your students discuss and summarize the information.

After reading a piece of text, ask your students to discuss the reading together and summarize it either verbally or in writing. You can also ask questions to test their understanding. If you want to further stimulate discussion, prepare some open-ended questions to have your students reflect on what they just read. 

Tip #5: Change up the reading material.

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To keep your students engaged with reading, present different types of reading materials to change things up. Some days, you can ask them to read articles or blog posts, other days you can read short stories or poetry. If you have a longer time with these students, you can even read a book together. This will also help your students discover what they like to read and they can continue to pursue reading on their own. 

Tip #6: Have students reread the same material to see if they discover something new. 

Have you ever reread a book a second time and realized you missed many details the first time? Often when you reread the same piece of text or a book, you’ll discover something you may have missed before. Let students know that it’s okay to read something a second time if they did not fully understand it the first time. Often it’s good to go away for a while and reread a piece of text with ‘fresh’ eyes. 

Tip #7: Do read alouds. 

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Ask your students to take turns reading out loud. Reading a text aloud often increases your comprehension of that text as you’re not just taking in the text with your eyes but now also listening to it. If you’re reading a story, you can give different students different roles to read. If it’s a text that contains paragraphs, have different students read each paragraph. 

We hope these tips will help you in your English class! What other tips do you have to improve your ESL students’ reading comprehension? Share them in the comments below! 

Ellier Leng
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