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Top 5 tips to help EAL learners progress in their reading comprehension

Reading can be quite a challenging task for an EAL learner. Only more advanced EAL pupils can read texts independently, without needing assistance from teaching staff. Subsequently, teachers often wonder how to help EAL learners progress in their reading comprehension.

We asked some primary and secondary teachers what their top 5 tips are to make EAL learners progress in their reading comprehension. Here is what they had to say:

Chunk text

This is an excellent idea to ensure everyone in the classroom understands a sentence or passage. Teachers can break down the hard parts and explain the definition of different words to pupils. This is also a great opportunity to review certain grammar rules.

Teach reading skills

Scanning a text will help pupils get the gist of what it is about. By asking pupils to pick out keywords, teachers can make sure pupils know what the main themes and points are. Teachers can also ask pupils to look for a specific word; this technique is referred to as skimming.

Walk through the book first

It is quite helpful to have a general idea of what happens in the book before trying to understand one of its passages. Teachers can organise activities beforehand, such as sequencing tasks which require pupils to place images summarising the book into correct order. After this, teachers can run through the book orally and provide pupils with some key vocabulary and character descriptions.


Giving pupils different sentences to read will not only encourage them to pay more attention to what they are reading, but it will also allow them to practice their reading skills. Furthermore, it will encourage them to speak up if they don’t understand a word.

Use Widget Online

This is a resource which allows teachers to visually represent text. It’s great for EAL pupils as they can find out which images and text correspond.

There are a variety of ways teachers can help EAL learners progress in their reading comprehension. Techniques include breaking down text, picking out keywords, putting the text into context, organising a role-play and using images.

If you want to help as much as possible, these resources for EAL learners might help you out. They are all about making the language transition smoother for EAL pupils and adding a little bit of fun to what can be a daunting challenge for these children.

If you have any more ideas, please drop us a note on Twitter at @FlashAcademy_HQ!

Interested in all things EAL? Check out our top 5 tips to make EAL pupils progress in their writing! Are you looking for free EAL resources for your school? Why not visit our resources page?

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