The New York Times had a article that reminded me of technique I use with students who are weak readers to improve their comprehension.
One common problem that ESL/EFL students have is that they understand spoken English, but struggle more when reading a text. Part of the problem has to do with pronunciation. I had a student whose English was perfectly fluent, but when she had to read aloud, she struggled because she didn’t pronounce words correctly, and so she didn’t recognize a word that she knew as that word.
We decided that she would do the following to improve her comprehension and word identification.
- Get a library card
- Log into Overdrive and find books that she could checkout that also have an audio version
- When reading, she would listen to the audio version while she was looking at the text
This technique created an environment where she could see and hear the words at the same time which helped her start to become better at decoding unfamiliar words. She started to anticipate how the narrator would pronounce a word and judge how close she was. She had a huge improvement of 80 points on her SAT Reading in just a month and 4 novels. Of course, she was implementing other techniques as well, but the reading and listening technique helped with her schoolwork as well.
Overdrive is a system associated with libraries in over 70 countries worldwide, and it provides access to e-books and audio-books through its website and app. It is the most cost-effective and easy to use system I have found for students who want to improve their reading skills.
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