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Teaching Spanish Sight Words in Context Generates Reading Success

Teaching Spanish sight words in context is as challenging as designing lesson plans to deliver that message. A bilingual classroom is a room more than individuals with distinct backgrounds and cultures. As teachers, you know the importance to assimilate, instruct, and plan those lessons to meet learning goals. Teaching ELL students, aside from their backgrounds, brings a whole new perspective to differentiating instruction.

Expecting to learn a new language with simple tools and vocabulary is not going to speed up students’ process of acquiring the language. There have to be systems that help those ELL students with a lack of proficiency in phonics, phonemic awareness, and even letter identification. As simple as it may sound, teaching Spanish sight words in context helps them learn the new language a little bit more every day.

Teaching Spanish sight words as the essential foundation

Mentioning to teach ELL students to learn important Spanish sight words seems redundant. However, as teachers, you have to believe that a foundation in knowing those simple words leads to greater things. Especially in learning a second language, ELL students lag behind the language skills to succeed in reading. The classroom is clear research-based evidence when it comes to how ELL students acquire a second language.

Even English speaking students need support from teachers to learn sight words or high-frequency words. At that moment,  young readers begin their reading journey. Imagine a bilingual student trying to adapt to the norms of the classroom and reading in another language. Reading comes with practice. Many literary experts would agree that to support bilingual readers; you need to generate various modes of tools.

Besides the typical flashcards and interactive games, having consistent tools helps ELL students to adjust. For instance, writing instructions on the board or on anchor charts aids in understanding the routine of the classroom. Aside from visual aids, create relationships between other bilingual students or study partners to help each other through assignments or activities. More importantly, as a teacher, you have to realize how crucial a student name and culture are to the student coming into the classroom.

In addition to all the research about cultural awareness, you identify how important knowing a student name is. ELL students realize that you care enough to learn students’ names and greet them at the door. As they feel you care about the class, the potential of learning increases for any student.

Using Spanish sight words in developing reading skills

Considering teaching Spanish sight words in context takes time and preparation. Would you use the same list from grade level to another? Perhaps, the most fundamental approach would be to assess the class and evaluate the results. Reading measurements tell part of the story. Reading experts believe young readers begin to develop reading skills when many components are in place.

Related: Spanish Sight Words Mini Book Collection

Knowing high-high-frequency words is a step forward. Many educators refer them as Dolch’s words or Fry’s word list. However, many teachers are not limited to these sight word lists and expand to other essential words. The task may be as simple as to hand these lists and expect young learners to memorize them. But teachers know word lists are merely supplements. Young readers learn sight words, whether in English and Spanish, by using a combination of phonemic awareness and putting sounds together.

In reality, whenever ELL students encounter a new word, they would have the skills to recognize, sound out, and retain the original word. By seeking words in sentences, reading passages, poems, rhymes, and other literary works, bilingual readers extend what they know. With extensive practice in the classroom and at home, they can build up their vocabulary and comprehend more.

Connecting sight words with reading in context

Fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension are all necessary reading tools for any young reader. ELL students need additional support in these areas. Whether you use visual aids to incorporate sight words or student participation, instructional design of curriculum needs more ways to embed bilingual components. As a result, making connections between prior knowledge and a new culture is an ideal way to add sight words to reading lessons. As young readers begin to assimilate to the new culture, they do not have to disregard previous traditional learning from their native country.

One particular school uses Spanish Heritage classes to give credit to ELL students that complete the course. Within that class, the study material is more than learning the culture. Amazingly, they discover the Spanish language more accurately based on a research-based curriculum. Aside from knowing the Spanish language well enough, they interconnect the material from class to other subjects in English.

So teaching Spanish sight words in context is a vital part of ELL students’ reading strategies. In that way, they can begin to structure sentences and make meaningful interpretations from reading. 

Supporting ELL students with language development

Teaching Spanish sight words in context improves reading skills. More surprisingly, learning these word lists generates a whole realm of language skills that ELL students can apply to other subjects. However, a vital foundation in sight words and understanding reading is a necessary element to their language development.

In conclusion, many literary experts believe the crucial aspect of reading with phonics, phonemic awareness, and print identification. ELL students cannot learn without knowing sight words and how they play a role in reading. In turn, as they increase their reading abilities, they begin to learn more about other subjects and their world around them.

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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