10 reading tips for bilingual struggling readers

Every reader wants to improve his or her reading skills. Every parent or caregiver wants their children to improve their language skills. And every educator is concerned that not enough is done.

However, bilingual readers seem to struggle the most. By not fully knowing one particular language (whether native or not), the struggling reader has challenges assimilating the necessary reading skills to succeed.

But children that are struggling to learn to read do not have to suffer. They do not have to end as part of yet another statistic, where more than 8% of high school students decided not to continue school and drop out.

Although struggling reading skills play a small part in their decision, this area can be improved. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported in 2009 that about 17% of the population was Hispanic high school dropouts.

The lowest rate it has been since 1980, emphasizing that no matter your ethnic background and economic situation, struggling reading skills can be improved.

Tips to Help Bilingual Struggling Readers

By working together, children with reading challenges can succeed in school. Here are 10 ways to improve the reading skills in children. Some of these tips can be done simultaneous or in conjunction with other useful tips. In the end, it should benefit the struggling reader.

1. Get a good dictionary:

Getting a dictionary should be a basic improvement in any struggling reader. A dictionary is the foundation of learning, defining, and understanding the phonics of words.

Furthermore, with a bilingual dictionary, meaningless words should become clearer. It should also increase the reader’s vocabulary content.

2. Read more challenging books:

Select books that can challenge the understanding or comprehension level of the bilingual struggling reader. For early readers, select books with simple words and sentences.

Once they have mastered this level, add more complex books. And eventually move onto other levels. Parents can find some of these books color-coded or by number level.

3. Practice syllable formation:

As reading become more comfortable for struggling readers, start to sound out syllables. This can be a very fun activity for beginner readers.

Some fun ways to introduce syllable formation are clapping, playing some maracas, bells, or tambourines. Early readers should recognize one-syllable words and move onto more complex syllables.

4. Comprehension is key:

Select materials that can enhance the comprehension level of the struggling reader. For beginners, it is sometimes useful to read together and point the basic words in sentences.

It’s always great to ask questions and interact with the reader on the story. Always encourage questions and more questions about the story.

5. Build to more complex sentences:

In essence, the bilingual struggling reader should build up to more complex sentences. From basic sentences to complicated ones, the struggling reader should be able to move on at his or her pace.

6. Listen to educational music:

This is sometimes the most fun way for struggling readers to learn to read. Select lyrics that are fun to rhyme or just fun to sing along with.

Many of the classic nursery rhymes are now bilingual and easy to sing along with.

7. Watch videos suggesting pronunciation:

Viewing another person spell out or speak the words is another basic step for struggling readers. In this way, readers are able to pronounce and say the syllables out loud as another person is saying it.

Bilingual readers may have a difficult time to pronounce certain words. But with the help of suggested videos, they might be able to tune in to particular vowel or consonant formation.

8. Read bilingual magazines:

There are a variety of magazines for all reading levels. Select the ones that is the most appealing to the struggling reader. Magazines are great tools to read for their short articles and factual content.

9. Visit bilingual web sites:

Select web sites that are safe and are geared towards the readers reading level.

There are many great web sites that can help struggling readers improve their skills. Look for sample exercises, interactive programs, and easy printouts, if possible.

10. Cope with learning disabilities:

Many struggling readers are sometimes misdiagnosed with a learning disability like dyslexia, ADHD, and autism. There are many more learning disabilities that can be misrepresented, which can deter the learning ability to read.

But parents and caregivers should address any concerns with their medical and educational professionals.

Barbara Mascareno

Barbara is an educational writer, teacher, and instructional designer. She loves to write K-12 education content, teaching strategies, bilingual education approaches, and foreign language.

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