Monday, March 7, 2011

Reading Comprehension Strategies for ELLs: Making Connections

Good readers make connections to their background knowledge. They activate their schema. Schema is the prior experience that students bring to the text they are reading. In the case of ELLs, the schema that they bring to the classroom may be very different from their classmates’ experiences. It is important that classroom teachers help English language learners to relate their schema to the book they are reading. Our goal during Reader’s Workshop is to help our students make the following connections: text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world.
Text-to-self connectiona are associations that readers make between the text they are reading and something that happened in their own lives. This connection allows ELLs to share their unique schema with classmates. They learn the phrases, “ I have a text to self connection; “This reminds me of when I....” We use this strategy so that students see how their own experiences help them better understand what the characters in the story feel.
Text-to-text connections is a link that students make between the text that they are reading and another story that they have read. It is important to teach students the language of text-to-text connections. When I teach this strategy in my ESL classroom, I prompt the connections by asking, “Does anyone remember another book where children had to share with their friends?”
Text-to-world connections are those links students make between the text and something that has happened in the world. My students make connections to their lives in Korea, Japan, China, India and South America. If we read about a hurricane in a 5th grade ESL class, the students have the language to make the connection between the text that we are reading and extreme weather that has occurred in their own countries. This is a powerful strategy for ELLs because they are using their schema to contribute to the class discussions..I teach them to use sentences such as “This makes me think about,” “I remember when..” or “this is what happened in my country.”
Help your ELLs to learn how to comprehend what it is they read in English. Begin by using the strategies used in Reading Workshops.

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