How To Increase Reading Comprehension In Multilingual Students

June 26, 2020

How To Increase Reading Comprehension In Multilingual Students

For many new readers, reading comprehension is one of the most important and often difficult skills to master to become a fluent independent reader. Students whose second language is English might find reading comprehension difficult and will struggle in other subject areas because of their comprehension level.

ELL students are no longer a minority in mainstream classrooms. In fact, ELL students make up about 20 percent of the U.S. public school student population. However, many teachers are not able to teach reading comprehension to cater to these students’ specific needs.

Parents with multilingual or English Language Learning (ELL) children might need to find how to increase reading comprehension in an unconventional way to supplement their reading curriculum.

How To Increase Reading Comprehension In Multilingual Students

What is reading comprehension?

Before knowing how to help your child with reading comprehension, you should become familiar with what reading comprehension actually means. Reading comprehension in the simplest terms is being able to understand what a text says.

Comprehension is the goal of most reading programs. Without comprehension, students are just identifying words but not actually absorbing the information within the text. If your child struggles with comprehension, they will likely struggle in school in the future since a huge part of learning is reading texts.

In order to master reading comprehension, your child will need to improve their skills in the six components of reading comprehension.

What are the five components of reading comprehension?

Reading comprehension is an important major reading skill that utilizes other skills in unison. The five components of reading comprehension are:

  1. Decoding – Decoding words on a page relies on phonemic awareness and vocabulary building. This is essentially identifying words immediately and being able to see the word and make a connection to its meaning or function in the sentence.
  2. Vocabulary – Since decoding is identifying words, it relies heavily on your child’s vocabulary knowledge. The more vocabulary they know the easier and quicker it is for them to decode. Vocabulary building often starts with sight words or the most common words in a language.
  3. Fluency – Once your child has built their vocabulary and decoding, they likely move on to fluency. Fluency is the pace at which your child is able to read. This relies heavily on how quickly your child can identify words or decode unfamiliar words. Fluency can take time for ELL students to master because they might need time to distinguish between their English vocabulary bank and their native language vocabulary bank.
  4. Sentence construction and cohesion – Although sentence construction might seem like a writing skill, writing and reading are closely related skills that often overlap with one another. Knowledge of sentence construction and cohesion can help your child comprehend the meaning of a whole sentence as opposed to just recognizing vocabulary words.
  5. Recalling information – A great way to check your child’s reading comprehension is to have them summarize the reading or retell the text in their own words. This shows that they are able to recall information from the text and fully understand what the author is trying to say.

How To Increase Reading Comprehension In Multilingual Students

How can I help my multilingual child with reading comprehension?

Here are some ways you can practice reading comprehension with your child:

  1. Read together – Reading with your child has many benefits such as creating a strong bond as well as gives your child a positive role model for reading. Listening to you read can help your child understand a story better, and you can check their understanding.
  2. Get in the kitchen – Another way to get your child to practice reading comprehension is to cook a new recipe with them. This also teaches them some life skills in cooking as well. You can have your child pick a meal they would like to cook and have them read the recipe as the two of you cook so that they are given some responsibility to read the directions correctly.
  3.  Learn something new – Find a new hobby or activity both you and your child would like to learn such as gardening or making some tie-dye shirts. Get the instructions and just like the cooking activity have your child read the instructions. Allow them to guide you in the activity so they are reading and have a sense of leadership and responsibility.
  4.  Movie night – For multilingual and ELL students, being able to practice several language skills at once can help them immensely. Reading a book and hearing the target language through media such as movies can help them practice language skills. You can choose a book that has been turned into a film then you can have a movie night to watch the movie version of the book. This will help your child with recalling information and activating their creativity.
  5.  Use a reading app – Another way for your multilingual child to practice several language skills at once is to use an interactive reading app. Readability is the perfect app to use for practice reading, listening, and speaking – three out of the four language skills! Readability has a large library of stories that your child can read and is constantly being updated with more original content. The app gives your child the option of having it read the stories to them or they can read the story aloud as the app listens to them. When they are reading aloud, the app will listen to them to give them feedback for improvement.

While multilingual children might have their own unique struggles with learning to read, many studies show that multilingual children end up doing very well in many different subject areas.

Using any of these activities can help your child to improve their reading comprehension, but if you want them to improve other language skills such as speaking and listening Readability is a great overall app for multilingual and ELL students to use. Once your child is able to master reading comprehension their learning in other areas will improve greatly.