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Expert Q&A

I teach English as a foreign language. What is the best way to teach kids how to read English?

Reading is a very complex process, which requires decoding, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Decoding alone is also a complex process involving many sub-skills, including alphabetic knowledge, phonemic awareness skills, phonics skills, and sight word recognition. All of these components are necessary for successful reading. It is important to be sure that there isn’t anything standing in the way, such as difficulty with one or more of the skills necessary for easy and accurate reading. The decoding components of reading must be solid, or the reader will spend too much effort sounding out words and will not be able to derive meaning and enjoyment from the story.

The following articles will give you more information concerning the processes involved in reading:

You might also find helpful information in our “Launching Young Readers” Series.

If you work with more than one student at a time, the following articles may help give you ideas for ways you can diversify your instruction to reach all of your students:

The most helpful advice about specific teaching strategies usually comes from other teachers. If you haven’t done so already, talk with your colleagues, especially those who have worked with your students in the past, as well as specialists (such as special education teachers, reading specialist, speech clinicians and occupational therapists) who are currently working with some of your students. They can share with you the strategies that they have found to be helpful for the students in your class.

While we cannot endorse any specific reading programs, the following articles from our site address several different programs and their benefits:

Reading Rockets has two sister-sites: LD OnLine and Colorin Colorado. Colorin Colorado is a Spanish language site, and contains several articles which can be viewed and printed in English or Spanish. You can sign up to receive the Colorin Colorado newsletter in Spanish or in English through the site.

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