236.  I attended the ESL Academy in Arkansas, and I have a question. I am working with a child (young adult) who has been in our school system for at least 9 years. He is a senior and still is a VERY poor reader. To add to his problem, he was expelled from school. Because he was admitted to our Special Education program last year, he is being allowed to do his work after school for two days a week. I will be helping him. My question is this. Besides the work, what I really want to do with him -- and what his goal is -- is to become a better reader. He's taking astronomy (I can hardly read the book!), two agricultural topics (also very technical in nature), and English. We're modifying the material in English, but I want to work with him specifically with improving his general fluency in reading. I want to take time specifically earmarked for this purpose. Today, helped him answer questions -- read with him -- (Duolog technique, where we both read aloud, and I would stop if there were a word that I thought he might not know -- or a concept), but I want to do more. My question --what do you think would be the best way for me to help this 19-year-old. Word attack skills are very poor. If the word has more than two syllables, he really can't figure it out. Do you have any specific recommendations -- given the limited time I will have with him. I know what I need to do in the content areas, but I just wondered if you had a suggestion of what I could do to try to help him to read better. I am going to give him very low level, high interest books to take home and read daily (He'll be coming for two hours for two days a week.) I know that I have to "meet him on his level" and that more reading is better. Thanks for any suggestions.

Wonderful Question, Terrific Challenge, Extraordinary Situation!!!!! Wow!!!  You have your work cut out for you!!!! And for me, in trying to respond to this magnificent question!!!!!

THANKS, for thinking about me and for seeking my help through my Web Sites!!!!! READ ON!!!!!

This is the MOST unfortunate part of your question: 9 years in a school system and now, a senior at age 19, and . . . . expelled!!!! But you are right: YOU WILL HELP HIM!!!!! I know it is a very short amount of time but MUCH can be done!!!!! Trying to "READ" Astronomy and Agriculture may help YOU and HIM understand what "proficient reader" really means!!!! As you --and him-- can see, TOO many unknown words and concepts!!!!! But your --and his-- goal of becoming a BETTER READER is a great place to BEGIN!!! Great Goal, which you must remind him about it every time you work with him.

So, to become a "better" reader in these three classes -- Astronomy, Agriculture and English, THE STUDENT and YOU must do tremendous amounts of VOCABULARY BUILDING!!!! The "duolog" technique sounds encouraging, especially if you help him with those words you think he may not know, or difficult concepts he may not understand, BEFORE you two do the duolog technique.

I am forwarding to you a very INTERESTING research just released by Cambridge University. The research I am talking about says that IF THE FIRST AND LAST LETTERS OF A WORD ARE CORRECT --AND ALL OTHER LETTERS IN THE MIDDLE ARE OUT OF ORDER-- , reading with great efficiency and fluency is still possible.  Well, what does this research say about "trying to figure out" a word by looking at the individual letters? This student, like millions of students, just needs to SEE words over and over in meaningful sentences, sentences he has dictated to you that are very meaningful to him. Then reading back his OWN words in his own sentences may be helpful to him. Here is the research:

Subject: VERBIAGE research from Cambridge

Cehck tihs out. It is vrey intrteseing rseeacrh:

Aoccdrnig to a rseearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht

the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.

The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm.

Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

amzanig huh?

How about if, especially with the new words in Astronomy and Agriculture and English, he tapes meaningful ORAL messages for you? Then, you --or another student for extra credit-- can type or transcribe what he says on the tape onto paper. Then he can read back to himself what he said on the tape. 

I am using lots of audiotapes of everything we read --and I am strongly urging the librarian at my school to transform our school library onto a LISTENING/READING center. My very own students --all ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS, derive GREAT benefit from reading silently while listening to tapes of what they read. I am urging that ALL textbooks be provided at the library with tapes. "BOOKS for the Blind" produces thousands of books on tape.

So here is my suggestion: YOU help the student build the vocabulary and the meaning of concepts and THEN HE LISTENS while he READS silently (at home or with you) the reading selections on tape. The more this young man can simultaneously LISTEN and READ what he understands, the better. He could even try to follow ALOUD along with the audio-reading, especially AFTER he understands well what he has heard and read silently first.

In my classes, ALL the books and selections we read, we hear on tape. Most NEW books are now available on tape.

Now, this student has --I think-- failed for 9 years!!!! And in those 9 years I am sure teachers kept the reading materials "to his level." My very strong recommendation: Meet this student at his INTEREST level!!!!!! Then, build the vocabulary BEFORE reading--while you work with him twice a week, and have him --at home or with you-- simultaneously LISTEN and READ silently what he WANTS to read because he is interested in reading about it!!!!! Then he can read aloud along with the tape (or with you, in the duolog technique).

Also, have him KEEP vocabulary cards with new words and review those, reading them fast every time he reviews them. You can read the words in the cards for him really fast --and every now and then you can 'misread' one, and see if he catches the mistake!!!! Make it FUN, but make it at the HIGH interest level of a 19 year old who wants to study Astronomy, Agriculture and English!!!!!

 


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