Monday, March 15, 2010

Topic: Problems with Reading English as a Second Language

10-second review: Two problems—written academic English is not conversational. The syntax is more complicated. The readers tend to read word by word, not structures.

Title: “Reading and ESL.” HS O’Donnell. Journal of Reading (February 1974), 404-406.

Summary: Suggests taking complex sentences similar to those in the reading material and showing students how to break them into the structures with which they are constructed—phrases, clauses, etc. Show the students how the same idea can be expressed in different ways. Suggests also working with idioms, words with multiple meanings and analogies.

Comment: I continue to suggest 10-minute essays for ESL (English as a Second Language) students. At night the students write in English for ten minutes—no longer. The teacher the next night corrects the spelling, syntax, usage, punctuation—and I mean “corrects.” The teacher writes in the correct spelling, rewrites the sentences in English formats, provides accurate vocabulary. The student then asks questions about “why?” the teacher made the changes and re-writes, incorporating the teacher’s changes to help them visualize their writing as correct English writing. RayS.

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