According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than five million students in the public school system are classified as English Language Learners. Proficiency for ELL can vary; however, some children enter the public system understanding very little English.
For children struggling to learn English, the classroom experience looks and feels foreign. All lessons are taught in English, exacerbating the difficulty of language-based subjects like reading. To ease the classroom struggle, these students benefit from additional tools and resources. A reading tutoring app provides English language learners with access to a library of English language learning books and enables them to learn English as they receive additional reading help.
Strategies for Helping ELL Students with Reading
Edutopia explains that books with illustrations help ELL students with reading; pictures show students more information about the story or action within the story. While pictures provide context, they don’t help with sounding out words or help children understand sound blends. Phonics should be an integral component for helping ELL students, too.
In addition, Edutopia also suggests that teachers (or parents) divide the text into chunks. This helps students focus on one section at a time to simplify understanding and work on word meaning and context. In addition, the site also recommends that teachers and/or parents gauge the level at which the child comprehends what they are reading. Is the child completely lost? Are they missing key details because of the language barrier? If a book is too hard, drop down to an easier reading level and help the child work toward a higher reading level.
There are some apps that are designed specifically to help children and adults learn another language–including English. Reading apps are not focused on teaching children English, but they can be utilized as an additional resource and enrichment tool.
Reading Apps Provide an English Language Learning Center
Not all families have access to books. Some neighborhoods also are unsafe for children or adults to walk to a nearby library in order to check out reading materials. This lack of access and resources exacerbates the child’s learning struggles; after all, how can they learn to read in English or practice basic reading skills if they cannot easily find reading materials?
Reading apps can help level the playing field for children. Apps connect students to an online library filled with shelves of book titles. This means that they will always have a book to read. Some reading apps also provide the child with tools that can help them if they struggle to pronounce a word or if they have trouble with reading comprehension.
EBooks and EReader Devices
Today’s tablets typically offer a pre-loaded e-reader app or program that allows users to download books from an online store and read them on their tablet. Ebooks provide a digital reading solution for children who might not love reading bound books; an ereader also removes the physical barrier of traveling to a library to check out a book.
While some book titles are free to download on ereaders, the free options are not necessarily the titles children want to read. Parents might find that the books that their child wants to read cost much more money than parents can or will spend.
Still, most ereader apps offer a decent amount of free book titles. These books still provide ELL students with materials that can help them practice their reading skills.
Audiobook Apps Enable Students to Hear the Story
Children who are learning English also could benefit from hearing a story while they follow along in the book. Some children might listen to the book in their native language and follow in English or vice versa.
Listening to a story helps children hear the sounds of words and pick up on emotion, too. However, not all children might find these books to be helpful. The benefit of audiobooks is that they provide yet another type of sensory feedback; children who are auditory learners might find that listening to a story is incredibly helpful.
Parents can find audiobooks for free at their local library. In addition, services like Audible provide access to a vast number of book titles. Apple and other companies also provide access to audiobooks (prices may vary).
Explore Free Gamified Apps
Many apps are free via the App Store or Google Play. However, these free apps might offer a gamified design; not all parents like their child learning in this format. In addition, gamified apps might not offer resources that can help ELL students if they struggle.
Some children could find gamified apps to be entertaining, engaging, and helpful. Explore the options online.
Choose a Lesson-Based Reading Tutoring App to Access Books
Lesson-based apps provide built-in tools and resources. For many parents, the pricing structure of an app could be a barrier. App-based reading programs typically offer a monthly subscription; parents commit to paying one month at a time and can cancel when they wish.
Of course, there are programs that might require a more long-term commitment. Before entering any payment information, parents should research the pricing structure and feel comfortable with the billing methodologies.
The Benefits of a Reading Tutoring App
There are many reading apps that integrate tutoring capabilities to help children gain reading confidence and reading fluency. When ELL students struggle to gain proficiency in English and have difficulty reading at the appropriate grade level, parents might discover that an online reading app provides the resources and integrated tools the child needs.
Readability is a leveled reading app designed for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. It is recommended that students begin the program one reading level below their current reading level; this helps them feel more confident as they acclimate to the program’s design.
Readability’s built-in AI tutor provides intuitive and guided support for struggling readers. The AI tutor is programmed with voice recognition software and it learns to identify the unique intonations of each child’s voice.
At each reading level, students access a library of books. They read materials aloud, and, as they read, the tutor listens for any vocal indications that the child is struggling or needs help. If the child mispronounces a word, the tutor helps them sound it out. The AI tutor provides encouragement and feedback just like an in-person private tutor.
While the tutor offers assistance, it’s also a measuring tool for the program. The AI tutor computes the child’s reading fluency (measured in words read per minute). At the end of each book, the tutor also leads a reading comprehension quiz to gauge overall understanding.
For ELL students, Readability’s books are filled with colorful illustrations that can be used to aid understanding. In addition, each book includes a list of vocabulary words; this ensures that students increase their word mastery. Children also can tap any word in a story to hear the word used in a sentence or listen to the definition.
Readability includes one final feature that benefits ELL students. The Storytime option lets children listen to their favorite stories and follow along in the book.
While Readability requires a monthly subscription ($19.99 per month), parents can sign up for a free seven-day trial period to explore the program with their child and better understand its features and benefits. Sign up today, and meet the AI tutor, preview a library of book titles, and help children increase their reading confidence.