Cute Girl Reading--yellow backgroundSome of out students say that they just do not like to read. While I realize that this might be true, I also know that when students say that they are just mimicking their peers and elders–they may not really feel that way at all–they do not know enough about themselves to have an informed opinion. They have been misinformed. They have been raised in a culture where reading for pleasure is not modeled, access to books is limited and few have quiet time to read.

I instead of surrendering to the idea that they are non-readers, I think they they probably just need some help. We need to provide them with the tools and the materials so that they can become readers. We need to realize that they have not been trained to read, they have not had reading modeled to them, they have not been provided with a safe, quiet place where they can concentrate and read, and they have not been provided with comprehensible and interesting reading materials. When we do all of those and enforce it consistently, our students will begin to read, some grudgingly at first, but most will come to accept it and eventually like it.

What we are doing with reading is using principles of teaching with comprehensible input and applying them to reading. the content must be interesting and comprehensible, it must be in the target language, it must be varied and it must be consistent. Teachers are already doing much of that in their classes with oral language, they just need to convert that thinking to reading. If we stick with a well thought-out reading program we can get them to the place where they will say, as have more than one of my students, “You know what señor? I don’t like to read in English, but for some reason, I kind of like it in Spanish.”

This outline, plus links to tools to help you to get your students reading under each section, is on the “Free Stuff” page of my web site:

1) Be convinced yourself of the value of reading, and particularly self-selected reading

2) Model reading by reading to them and by reading in front of them

3) Teach them how to choose reading materials

4) Provide plenty of reading materials that are comprehensible, interesting and (when possible) culturally relevant

5) Teach them how to read in another language

6) Make reading a regular part of the routine in your classroom and enforce it consistently

7) Continually point out why we are reading (like every single time they read until they can say it to your first)

8) Hold them accountable for their reading (lightly