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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Module 3 - Reading

Introduction to reading

In this module you will:

  • gain some specific knowledge about reading in a new language
  • examine the texts you have selected for your primary students
  • plan further opportunities to develop students’ reading
  • gain some examples of texts your secondary students can read and comprehend

You will need:

  • The Progressions: ELLP booklet that is relevant (Years 1-4, 5-8 or 9-13). 
    This is the booklet which you will use throughout this module.
  • Some examples of texts that are at your primary students’ current instructional reading level.

Getting started

To start you thinking about reading, please read the relevant section in The Progressions: ELLP. This is a useful summary, easy to read and contains important ideas about your English language learners.

Years 1-4 pp.13-17
Years 5-8 pp.13-17
Years 9-13 pp.13-17

Summary of key messages about reading

  • It’s important that teachers recognise what makes reading a text easy or difficult for a particular learner so they can choose the right text for that learner.
  • There is a range of different systems for levelling a text, but aspects that make a text difficult for an English language learner include idioms and colloquial language.
  • The features that make a text more complex for English language learners include; the length of the text, vocabulary, sentence structure and how familiar the learner is with the content.
  • Teachers are able to make the most of a text by careful choice, building on learners’ experiences and engaging in meaningful and purposeful conversations around the text.
  • English language learners should be encouraged to read in their home language(s).
  • Supporting learners to talk about text in either home languages or English enables learners to think critically.
  • Plan the steps in reading instruction carefully to include pre-reading, during reading and after reading support. Pre-reading is particularly important for activating students’ prior knowledge and identifying what needs to be explicitly taught in advance of the reading.
  • Reading a text for different purposes across the curriculum requires a different approach from reading for personal interest or recreation.
  • Teachers need to support learners to draw on all reading cues simultaneously. This means using prior knowledge, letter and sound knowledge, meaning cues, structural knowledge about the way the English language is organised. Learners need to be able to integrate these sources of information very rapidly to be competent readers.
  • It is important that primary teachers do NOT assume that if a text shown in The Progressions: ELLPis a ‘best-fit’ for the stage of their learner, then all other texts at a similar ‘colour wheel’ level will also be suitable. Similarly, it is important for secondary teachers not to assume direct relationships between texts in The Progressions: ELLP and ESOL unit standards. However the rough correlation between them could be a starting point for exploring further.

Gathering information

Using the reading section of The English Language Learning Progressions: ELLP

Open the fold-out page for the reading matrix in your booklet which is colour-coded for each stage.

Years 1-4 p.19
  Click the above image to enlarge
Years 5-8 p.19
  Click the above image to enlarge
Years 9-13 p.19
  Click the above image to enlarge

You will notice that this matrix focuses on text features within each broad stage, rather than learners’ reading skills. The features of text are described in relation to topic development, language structures, vocabulary and layout.

Look for these aspects of reading across the top of the matrix and the different stages down the side.

For each stage of The Progressions: ELLP the matrices show some text features that learners are likely to read at different stages.

Opportunities for reading assessment

There are many different reading assessment tools being used by schools.

Informal tools include observations in a variety of contexts:

  • in social and academic contexts
  • during classroom activities in pairs, small groups or whole class
  • in a range of curriculum areas
  • taking a running record.

Information from these observations might include:

  • aspects of text that learners find difficult/easy
  • reading processes
  • use of particular cues/sources of information
  • behaviours when meeting unknown words/phrases/ideas
  • fluency, clarity and phrasing
  • attitude.

Further opportunities for reading assessment

Some of the formal tools include:

  • PAT reading
  • Observation survey
  • asTTle reading
  • ARBs
  • NEMP tasks
  • STAR
  • NCEA and other secondary assessments

Assessment Tools Selector

Further information about a range of assessment tools is available at  Assessment Online

Examining the ELLP reading exemplars

On the pages following the matrix you will see examples of texts that learners could be reading at each stage. 

Years 1-4 pp.21-35
Years 5-8 pp.21-41
Years 9-13 pp. 21-51

Skim through the sample texts and look at how they have been analysed and organised into each category.

- How do these text examples compare with the instructional texts or subject area texts you have selected for your learners?
- What characteristics of the text are described for each stage and sub-stage?
- Are the descriptions of Language structures and Vocabulary similar to your instructional texts or subject area texts?

Thinking about text selection

Collect some texts that you are planning to use with your English language learners. These may be from a range of curriculum areas and text types as well as instructional reading texts.

You should also collect some of the following:

  • notes from informal observations (for example, from a guided reading lesson)
  • scripts and analysis from any formal assessments

When you have some information about your own learners and texts, you will be ready to start the next section - Making a 'best-fit'.

Making a 'best-fit'

How do I go about making a ‘best-fit’?

In this section you will use this information to decide on a ‘best fit’ stage for your students. You will also 

Video: Reading
See how one teacher and her colleague work together to decide on a student’s reading stage.

Where do your English language learners fit on the reading matrix?

Now you have seen the digital clip it is time for you to place your own students on the reading matrix.

Use the reading matrix to decide which stage each text is likely to fit into – make a general decision at this stage.

To confirm your ‘best fit’ decision, go to the pages following the matrix that have more detail and contain some text exemplars.

Years 1-4 pp.21-35
Years 5-8 pp.21-41
Years 9-13 pp.21-51

Sit the text alongside the sample text at your best-fit stage.
Examine the key characteristics at the top of each sample text and compare them with your own text.
 - does this look like the right stage?

Examine the topic development, language structures and vocabulary in the sample text, looking to confirm these features.
 - does this confirm your identification of the best-fit stage?

If not, look at the text sample before and after the one you are looking at, to try and find the appropriate stage for your text. Note that there are fiction and non-fiction text examples illustrated at each stage.

You’ll notice that each stage is broken down into sub-stages, but you may prefer not to record the sub-stage level of detail.

You will probably notice that texts show some aspects across more than one stage. You are aiming for an overall ‘best fit’.

Monitoring your learners

Keeping track of your learners’ stages is important. One purpose is to show progress over time and this could be done in a variety of ways.

You could:

  • highlight and date the indicators on the matrix and record the student’s ‘best-fit’ level.
  • annotate the matrix with extra notes that support your decision
  • collate the information on a student ‘record of progress’ form. See the example which you could use or adapt from the booklets.
    Years 1-4 p.64
    Years 5-8 p.81
    Years 9-13 p.89
  • record on your school manager or database system

When you have confidently completed this section, you are ready to consider how this information helps you and what you should do next to help your learners.

  • What do my students need to learn next? 
  • What do I need to do next?

Next steps

Acting on the reading information

Suggestions to further develop your students’ reading proficiency include:

  • using the matrices and looking ahead to the indicators at the next stage
  • actively modelling what effective readers do
  • using visuals of real life objects or concrete experiences to support English language learners’ understanding of ideas
  • explicitly teaching new vocabulary and/or language structures that students can use in their reading
  • reading to learners so that they see a model of effective reading
  • thinking about the ways to plug the gaps in any identified learner knowledge.

Suggestions to further develop your own ability to effectively develop reading with English language learners include:

  • consider your recent choices of texts
  • compare the text characteristics to those illustrated in the Reading and Writing Standards for Years 1-8

Many of these strategies are found:

If you need to order copies of these materials, please email  [email protected] or telephone 0800 660 662.

Leading professional learning - Reading

Some specific ideas to use the material in this module to develop knowledge around The Progressions: ELLP with other teachers:

  • The facilitation manual of The Progressions: ELLP also has some helpful ideas. Look at pp.25-27 for tasks, templates and focus questions around the reading section of The Progressions: ELLP.
  • Text analysis task: Teachers could use the template provided to record an analysis of texts and identify the features that are easy or difficult for English language learners. This will help guide teachers in their text selection process and teaching foci. It will be important to ensure that teachers discuss different text types that predominate in different learning areas. For example Science texts will have different features from a novel.
    Please view the following pdf entitled ‘Analysing Text’. 
  • Use the series of DVD  Making Language and Learning Work (1, 2 & 3) to help you plan for specific teaching ideas and support your discussion about reading with teachers.

Published on: 18 Dec 2015