15 Reading Comprehension Skills & Strategies for English Language Learners

Reading comprehension

The Importance of Reading for English Learners

Reading is a critical skill for English language learners (ELLs). It helps them build vocabulary, learn about grammar, and understand the complexities of the English language. But reading also plays an important role in developing critical thinking skills and fostering a love of learning. That’s why it’s so important for ELL students to read a variety of texts as a tool for learning languages. The building of strong reading for English learners begins with building strong reading comprehension skills. This can be achieved with simple methods like outsourcing English stories to improve English. In this blog, we will delve into this essential topic and how you can harness this powerful skill today.

What Is Reading Comprehension?

Comprehension skills are the ability to understand “process” and remember the information that is read. It involves both bottom-up processing, where the reader uses their background knowledge and literal meaning of the text to construct meaning, and top-down processing, where the reader uses their prior knowledge to make inferences and deductions about the text. Good comprehension skills are essential for success in school and work, as well as in everyday life. By developing strong comprehension skills, individuals can improve their reading speed and accuracy, as well as their understanding of what they read.

Why Are Reading Comprehension Skills Important for English Learners?

Comprehension skills are essential for ELLs to reach their full potential. Fortunately, there are many ways that students can develop these important skills. Many of which involve English reading exercises. It is essential that English learners build on their comprehension for a number of reasons, including:

  • Most importantly, these students need to be able to understand the written word to be successful in school.
  • Strong reading comprehension skills can lead to better writing ability, as well as improved oral communication skills.
  • Good comprehension skills can help ELLs develop a love for reading, which can have a lifelong impact.
  • Finally, by understanding what they read, ELLs can better navigate the complexities of the English language and culture.

By using interesting and engaging texts, providing adequate support, and encouraging active reading strategies, teachers can ensure that their students develop strong comprehension skills and a love for learning. Books to improve English are easy to find to start achieving your reading goals. Keep reading to discover our explicit instructions for reaching your goals of reading.

English Butterfly

15 Strategies to Improve Comprehension Skills

1. Activating and Using Background Knowledge

While all comprehension strategies are important, researchers have found that activating background knowledge is particularly important for reading fluency. This is likely because when readers can connect new information to what they already know, they are better able to build a mental model of the text which deepens their understanding. In addition, when struggling readers can activate their background knowledge, they often show improved comprehension in measures such as quizzes and retellings.

2. Generating and Asking Questions

Generating questions is a comprehension strategy that good readers use to check their skills through reading. Asking questions also allows readers to make predictions about what will happen next in the story. Good readers ask themselves questions when they come to a part of the text that they don’t understand. They also ask themselves questions when they want to know more about something that they’ve read. When readers ask themselves questions, they are actively engaged in the reading process.

3. Making Inferences

Making inferences is a comprehension skill that allows readers to draw conclusions based on the information they have been given. In other words, it involves going beyond the literal meaning of the text to understand what is not explicitly stated. This can be done by looking at clues in the text, such as the characters’ actions and dialogue, and using prior knowledge to fill in the gaps. Making inferences is an important comprehension strategy because it allows readers to actively engage with the text and understand its deeper meaning. 

4. Predicting

Predicting is a comprehension strategy that is used when readers come across an unfamiliar word. To figure out the meaning of the word, they use their prior knowledge and context clues to make an educated guess. This strategy is particularly useful for students who are struggling to acquire vocabulary knowledge through reading. By predicting the meaning of words, they can increase their comprehension and better understand the text.

5. Summarizing

Summarizing is the process of distilling the most important information from a text. When summarizing, one must focus on the main ideas and supporting details, rather than on minor points or trivial information. The ability to summarize is an important comprehension skill, as it allows readers to quickly identify the key points in a text and understand its overall meaning. Summarizing also helps improve writing skills by forcing one to condense complex information into a more concise form.

6. Visualizing

Visualizing is a comprehension strategy that allows readers to create mental images of the text they are reading. This can be especially helpful when reading fiction, as it can help readers to better understand and imagine the story. However, visualizing can also be useful when reading nonfiction, as it can help readers to remember key information and concepts. To visualize effectively, readers should try to use as many senses as possible. For example, if they are reading about a character eating a particular food, they should not only imagine what the food looks like but also what it tastes and smells like. You can also include different reading materials, like picture books and graphic novels. By engaging multiple senses, readers can create a more vivid and memorable image in their minds.

7. Comprehension Monitoring

Comprehension monitoring refers to the ability to monitor one’s own comprehension while reading. This process involves actively keeping track of what is being understood, and checking for understanding when comprehension breaks down. Good comprehension monitors can identify when they are no longer understanding the text and can take steps to fix the problem. This might involve rereading a section, looking up a word, or asking someone else for clarification. 

8. Retelling

While independent reading is important, the retelling of a story is an important comprehension skill that involves relaying the key details of a story in one’s own words. It helps readers to understand and remember what they have read, and it also allows them to identify the main points and events. When retelling a story, readers should focus on identifying the characters, setting, plot, and resolution. Pay attention to your phonemic awareness with your pronunciation as you go. Additionally, they should try to include as many details as possible in their retelling. By doing so, they will deepen their understanding of the text and be better able to remember its key elements.

9. Decoding

Decoding is a term often used for reading comprehension skills. When an individual decodes, they are essentially taking the meaning from the text and understanding it. This process can be difficult for some individuals because it requires them to analyze and synthesize the information within the text. However, with practice, decoding can become an automatic process that allows readers to understand the meaning of a text quickly and easily. The ability to decode as automatically is the ultimate goal.

10. Fluency

Fluency can be defined as the ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with comprehension. Development of reading fluency skills is important because it allows readers to focus their energy on comprehension of the text, rather than on decoding words. Good fluent reading skills allow readers to absorb more information in less time, and also improve their comprehension of what they read. Fluent readers are also able to read aloud smoothly and with expression. There are a variety of ways to develop fluency skills, including practicing reading aloud, listening to fluent readers, and using technology to support fluency development. 

11. Vocabulary

Vocabulary can be defined as the set of words used by an individual or group in a particular situation. It is important to have a strong vocabulary to facilitate comprehension skills. A good vocabulary allows individuals to express themselves more clearly and thus be better understood by others. Furthermore, a robust vocabulary can also improve an individual’s ability to understand spoken and written language. The development of a strong vocabulary starts with exposure to new words and concepts. This can come from reading, conversation, and other forms of communication. As people encounter new words, they can learn the meaning and usage through context clues or direct explanations.

12. Sentence construction and cohesion

The term sentence construction refers to the ability to put together a grammatically correct sentence. This includes knowing how to use correct verb tenses, pronouns, and other parts of speech. In addition, sentence construction also involves creating sentences that are clear and concise. A well-constructed sentence is easy for the reader to understand and should flow smoothly from one thought to the next. Cohesion refers to how sentences are connected to each other. To create cohesion, writers must use linking words and phrases such as however, in addition, and furthermore.

13. Working memory and attention

Working memory refers to the ability to store and process information for a short period. It is essential for reading skills and allows us to complete tasks such as following directions, solving math problems, and reading comprehension. Attention is the ability to focus on a task or stimulus and maintain focus. It is necessary for working memory as it allows us to select the relevant information and disregard distractions. Both working memory and attention are important cognitive skills that are essential for everyday functioning.

14. Text structure

Text structure refers to the ways that authors organize information in their writing. According to research, understanding text structure can improve comprehension skills, particularly for readers who are struggling. There are four common types of text structure: chronological, compare and contrast, cause and effect, and problem and solution. Each type is characterized by a unique organizational pattern. For example, chronological texts are typically organized around time, while compare and contrast texts focus on similarities and differences. By becoming familiar with these patterns, readers can develop a better understanding of what they are reading.

15. Purposeful reading

Purposeful reading is a comprehension strategy that involves choosing a specific purpose for reading, such as to obtain information or to better understand a concept. When using this comprehension strategy, readers actively think about why they are reading and what skills through reading they want to gain. This focus on purpose helps readers to better comprehension skills by promoting higher levels of engagement and motivation.

book stack

Additional Strategies for Intermediate to Advanced English Language Learners

1. Close reading

Close reading is a technique that is used to improve comprehension skills. It involves reading a text multiple times, with each reading focusing on a different aspect of the text. For example, the first reading might focus on the overall structure of the text, while the second reading might focus on the author’s use of language. Close reading can be an effective way to improve reading skills because it allows readers to break down a text and examine it in detail. Additionally, close reading can help readers to identify patterns and make connections that they might not otherwise be able to see.

2. Annotating

Annotating a text refers to the process of marking up a book, article or another document to highlight important passages or make notes. Many readers find that annotating improves their comprehension skills by forcing them to actively engage with the text. In addition, annotating can also help when it comes time to review for an exam or write a paper, as all of the important points will be clearly marked. To annotate effectively, it is important to use a system that makes sense to you and that you will be able to understand later. Some people prefer to use highlighters, while others prefer to make notes in the margins. Whichever method you choose, annotating can be a valuable tool for improving your comprehension and retention of a text.

3. Synthesizing information

Synthesizing information refers to the ability to effectively combine multiple sources of information to better understand a concept or topic. This comprehension skill is especially important in today’s world, where we are bombarded with a constant stream of information from a variety of sources. To effectively navigate this barrage of information, it is essential to be able to synthesize the various sources and draw conclusions based on all of the available data. Synthesizing information requires both critical thinking and analytical skills, as well as the ability to see the big picture. For these reasons, synthesizing information is an essential 21st-century skill.

4. Analyzing arguments

When we analyze an argument, we are trying to understand what the person is saying and why they are saying it. This requires basic reading comprehension skills, as well as the ability to think critically about the claims being made. To properly analyze an argument, we need to consider the following:

  • What is the claim being made?
  • What evidence is being used to support the claim?
  • Is the evidence valid and reliable?
  • What are the counterarguments?
  • How strong is the overall argument?

By taking the time to consider all of these factors, we can get a better understanding of the argument and whether or not it is persuasive.

5. Evaluating sources

When conducting research, it is important to evaluate the sources you are using. This is an essential form of expository reading. This means more than simply checking to see if the source is from a reputable publisher. Instead, you need to be able to critically assess the content of the sources and determine whether or not they are accurate and reliable. This can be a challenge, but there are some key questions you can ask yourself to help with the evaluation process.

Practice Comprehension With LillyPad!

In conclusion, English learning apps can be the greatest tool to improve your comprehension skills. With the help of LillyPad, you can easily access a wealth of information and resources that can aid in your language learning journey. By utilizing the power of technology, you can learn at your own pace, and in your own time. What’s more, you can also take advantage of the many features that LillyPad has to offer, such as the ability to track your progress and set goals. So why not give it a try today? You may be surprised at just how much you can improve your comprehension skills with the help of an app.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Reading Comprehension Skills?

Reading comprehension skills are the ability to read and understand written text. These skills include the ability to identify main ideas, make inferences, and identify bias and points of view. Good reading comprehension skills are essential for success in school and in the workplace. The ability to read and understand text is the foundation upon which all other academic skills are built.

What is the purpose of reading comprehension?

The purpose of reading comprehension is to understand the meaning of a text. This involves being able to read and understand the words, sentence structure, and overall message of the text. Good reading comprehension skills are essential for success in school and in the workplace. Being able to read and understand texts can help you do better on tests, write better essays, and find information more easily. 

Why are reading comprehension skills essential for ELL and ESL students?

Reading comprehension skills are essential for ELL and ESL students because they provide the foundation for all other academic skills. Without the ability to read and understand text, students will struggle to learn new vocabulary, grasp complex concepts, and make progress in all subject areas. Furthermore, reading comprehension skills are critical for success on standardized tests, which are often required for college admission.

How can I improve my comprehension skills?

One way is to read aloud. This helps to engage more of the senses, and it also forces you to slow down and pay attention to what you are reading. Another way to improve comprehension is to take notes while you read. This can help you to focus and keep track of key ideas. In addition, it can be helpful to discuss what you have read with others. This will help you to clarify your understanding and identify any areas that need further explanation. 

What are the 7 comprehension skills?

There are seven key comprehension skills that readers need to develop in order to understand what they read: main idea, detail, inferences, cause and effect, sequence, compare and contrast, and author’s purpose.

What are 4 types of reading skills?

There are four main types of reading skills: word decoding, fluency, comprehension, and critical reading.

What are comprehension strategies?

There are a variety of comprehension strategies that can be used to improve understanding of a text. These include such things as rereading, summarizing, drawing connections and asking questions. While some of these strategies can be used during or after reading, others should be employed beforehand in order to build background knowledge and set a purpose for reading.

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Learn from History – Follow the Science – Listen to the Experts

What’s the one thing that makes LillyPad so special? Lilly! She is a personal English tutor, and has people talking all over the world! Lilly makes improving your English easy. With Lilly, you can read in four different ways, and you can read just about anything you love. And learning with Lilly, well that’s what you call liberating! 

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At LillyPad, everything we do is focused on delivering a personalized journey that is meaningful and life-changing for our members. LillyPad isn’t just the next chapter in English learning…

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Bethany MacDonald

Bethany MacDonald

Bethany MacDonald has contributed articles LillyPad.ai since 2020. As their Blog Lead, she specialises in informative pieces on culture, education, and language learning

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