4. Teachers promote reading as a tool for learning content.
ELLs vary considerably in the vocabulary and the world knowledge that they bring to their reading. Beginners and students with little prior education may find certain content readings so difficult that they are unable to formulate questions or goals for reading.
Texts also vary in clarity, writing style, and in the authors' assumptions about the readers' prior knowledge. Effective teachers select texts that are clearly written and well organized, with meaningful section headings and topic sentences that provide readers with a "road map" of what is to follow.
Effective teachers of ELLs support and scaffold students' content reading in a number of ways. These include activating and assessing students' prior knowledge of the topic through discussion; building upon students' knowledge through hands-on activities and visual media; preteaching words critical to the comprehension of main ideas; and providing a prereading "tour" of the text to examine its structure, section headings, guiding questions, pictures, and data displays.
Content reading procedures, such as SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review), DRTA (Directed Reading and Thinking Activity), and (GRP) Guided Reading Procedure can help students formulate questions about the topic. Students read more purposefully when they are looking for answers to their questions in the text. Effective teachers provide note-taking organizers such as cause-effect charts, time lines, T-lists, and Venn diagrams for students to fill in as or after they read. Three instructional approaches specifically addressing ELL content instruction are Sheltered Instruction (SI), Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE), and the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA).
It is important to look for reading and instructional materials that reflect students' backgrounds, languages, cultures, and local communities whenever possible. From these resources, students are motivated to choose reading and research topics that mirror their own interests and backgrounds.
Effective teachers assign writing and oral language tasks that require close reading of texts: for example, a letter or diary entry by a historical figure, a skit that takes place during a particular historical event, a travel brochure, or a matching game.
As teachers and students read, learn, and write together, teachers point out structural and rhetorical features of written texts such as a thesis or argument, supporting evidence, introductions, conclusions, paragraph organization, and topic sentences.