A Few Ideas on Comprehension Strategies

Last week at the FLENJ Spring Conference, I met a young colleague who asked me how did I introduce a reading in Spanish.  After a brief conversation I promised I would post a couple of ideas.  

I previously shared my thoughts on teaching reading strategies in the post “What?! I can’t read Spanish!!”.  In the beginning of the school year I like to have a lesson devoted to the teaching of reading strategies.  Then, I reinforce the material every time I’m focusing on the interpretive task as a lesson objective. 

Below are some ideas:

  • For each interpretive task I ask the students to primarily focus on: source type, images/illustrations, cognates/familiar phrases, structure elements, background knowledge and context. Although they might be using more strategies to derive meaning I like to reinforce the ones taught in the beginning of the year.
  • Periodically students complete an Interpretive Reading Warm Up for a magazine article of their choice. Then, they write a summary in English stating facts and the main idea.
  • For books, the Interpretive Reading Warm Up can be completed as a class exercise using the front and back cover of the book.  Then, the students can complete an interpretive reading task created specifically for the reading, individually.
  • Books can also be divided into sections and be assigned to groups of students.  After each group completes an interpretive task for their assigned section, the students switch groups and share their part of the story.
  • Recently, I created a Video-Interpretive Task which is a modified version of the reading one. The concept is the same and it can be used as a graphic organizer when students are watching a video for the first time. After watching the video a second time (in the target language with no captions), students are ready to answer more specific questions about the information presented.

In my experience, by creating a routine in using the graphic organizers mentioned above I’m able to reinforce the strategies and promote independent learning.  My goal is for students to be able to  understand an authentic text outside the classroom, on their own.  Instead of  giving them a vocabulary list in advance (for example) I encourage them to gather their own vocabulary as they scan the reading, by recognizing cognates and learned phrases. The same is the case with the other strategies.

It’s not easy at first as students may resist by arguing that they “can’t read Spanish!” but with patience, structure and repetition we both (students and myself) feel successful at the end.

For a PPT on strategies, templates and rubrics copy and paste the following link: http://erickacollado.weebly.com/interpretive.html



Copyright © 2015 Ericka Collado
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