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Children's Literature- English Language Learners


Reading Aloud

This guide supports selecting books for English Language Learners.

What should teachers consider when planning a read aloud?

Children reap many benefits from listening to carefully chosen, thoughtfully prepared read alouds. For English Language Learners in particular, read alouds offer an engaging, context-embedded opportunity to teach features of academic language in English. Academic language is language that is necessary to succeed in school, but might not be easily learned in informal settings. So although a child learning English might be very proficient at speaking and comprehending the English language on the playground, she might struggle to understand the language used during a science lesson in the classroom.

Teaching academic language through read alouds means considering why, what, how, and when to teach features of the English language. The chart below maps the process of identifying linguistic demand and developing academic language objectives to teach word-level, sentence-level, and discourse-level structures. You may notice that this structure parallels the WIDA standards for teaching English Language Learners.

Reading Aloud Websites

Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary

Strategies for  teaching vocabulary:

  • Show word card
  • Show picture
  • Check pupil’s familiarity with the word
  • Ask the pupil to act out the word
  • Use a “word scale” to visually convey the nuance of the word
  • Define the word
  • Use an example based on the pupil’s daily life experiences
  • Use gestures to support oral explanations
  • Use the pupil’s native language to show the pupil’s understanding of the word
  • Show how to use the word in a sentence
  • Provide a blank card (for pupil to choose their own word)


Reading Aloud Strategies for English Language Learners  a training video by Project TALCA (BC community only)