Teaching ESL Comprehension doesn't need to be difficult! This weekly routine teaches one skill each day for effective, easy-to-implement, and low-prep practice!
We all know that our English Language Learners need LOTS of practice to improve their comprehension. There’s listening and reading comprehension to think about, not to mention many of our students still need practice decoding and writing sentences! Teaching ESL comprehension doesn’t need to be overwhelming, though! With just ten minutes a day, your students will get the explicit listening, reading, and writing practice they need to be successful.
Read on to see how easy your ESL comprehension routine can be!
While we're here...are you looking for more ways to become the Secondary ESL Teacher of your dreams? Click here to download the free guide that will completely transform your classroom (and your stress levels!)
ROUTINE! Routine might be my favorite word when it comes to teaching, especially when English Language Learners are involved. I promise to continue shouting the importance of strong routines from the rooftops for as long as this blog exists. Routines are such a game changer! Not only will your students know exactly what to do each day (hello confidence booster!), but your planning time will be cut at least in half, and class will run so much smoother since your students will know what is expected of them! It's basically a win-win-win-win-win situation.
Here’s the outline:
Monday: Listening Comprehension
Wednesday: First Read
Thursday: Second Read, Comprehension Questions
Friday: Vocabulary Game, Reflection
What to Prep
You’ll want to prepare one text for the entire week. I’d recommend a text that is a page or less, paired with about 2-3 questions, depending on your students’ needs. Differentiating text and question levels is great if you can! You’ll want to make (or digitally share) two copies of the questions and one copy of the text, plus this reflection sheet! For the vocabulary lessons, slides and cards are great, but again, not necessary! Conversations can work well, too. This routine is meant to help you, not add too much extra work to your plate.
Looking for a free, ready-to-assign text set to get you started? Click here to download!
If you like to organize a week of materials in advance, or just see what you'll need for the day, here’s your guide:
Monday - Listening Comprehension
ESL listening comprehension is the skill I neglected the most starting out. It’s easy to think “well, they’re listening to me speak all day, they’re talking with their friends, they’re clearly comprehending!” After my first round of state tests came back, I realized...not so much. Academic listening is so much different than casual listening! The good news is, students just need a bit of practice each week to rapidly strengthen this skill! (Plus, it carries over to all other subjects! Hello beautiful note-taking skills!)
Here’s all you have to do:
Tuesday - Vocabulary Instruction
Vocabulary instruction is extremely important for students! Understanding vocabulary is an essential part of improving ESL comprehension, but it doesn't have to be tedious! There are so many effective ways to teach vocabulary, so pick one or two that work for you and your students, and stick with them! Again, the lesson should only be about ten minutes long.
Pick three to five important vocabulary words from the text then pick one of the following (or use your own method!)
Wednesday - First Read
On day three, students will read the text, focusing on decoding and annotating. Students can read independently, with a partner, as a class, or with an audio accompaniment. The most important thing is that students are connecting language with the words on the paper. Students should annotate as they read, although annotations may look different based on the students’ individual levels. Students can…
Thursday: Second Read, Comprehension Questions
Today is all about reading for a purpose. Students should build toward working independently on this section, although starting with a partner (or as a class!) is a great way to differentiate. Here’s how to spend your ten minutes:
Friday: Vocabulary Games and Reflection
In my opinion, Fridays should be fun, full of games and reflecting on a week of hard work!
Start with reflecting on the work students did this week in order to solidify their learning. Have them pull out their comprehension questions from Monday and Thursday, and compare their answers. Did they find similar facts? Were they equally detailed? Were they all correct? Students can reflect on their comparisons by sharing with a partner or small group. Students can then use this reflection page to independently reflect on what they’ve learned!
Once students have reflected on their work, it’s time to put their new vocabulary knowledge to the test with a fun game! There are many, many games that you can play with your students, but these three have always been favorites in my classroom!
And that’s it! Just ten minutes a day to improve ESL comprehension for all of your students! Once you’re in the routine, all you’ll need to do is switch out the text each week and watch your classroom run itself!
Looking for more ways to transform your secondary ESL classroom? Click here to download the free guide that will give you the steps you need to become the Secondary ESL Teacher of Your Dreams!
Want to implement this in your classroom, but don’t want to spend the time preparing texts and questions? Click here to find ready-to-assign text sets in my TPT store.
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