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The reading of academic texts helps students language in a number of important ways. Firstly, a large amount of new language (vocabulary, sentence structure) can be learned from reading. Reading provides multiple exposures to academic vocabulary that is not used frequently in oral contexts (Elley, 1991) and students also have the opportunity to see a variety of academic text structures that they are unlikely to hear in spoken situations (Zwiers, 2008).

Here are strategies that can be used to help students build their reading vocabulary to support their comprehension.

1. Read-Aloud: students with reading/language difficulties may not attempt a text because of the complexity of words used. Reading aloud helps to give the student access to both the content and the academic language. It helps to build the student's interest in the text, develop academic listening skills (listening for important information), provide multiple exposures to academic vocabulary and build up knowledge needed for class discussions.

2. Comprehend-Aloud: As you read aloud, pause to make comments about what you are thinking and how you are organizing your thoughts in order to comprehend the text e.g. So far, I think the author wants me to understand......

Model how you monitor comprehension and use fix-up strategies (looking back, reading on, reading again) and connect pieces of text. e.g. I need to check back to see why the character said that.

Specifically direct students to words that help understand text e.g. however - an opposing piece of information is about to be given.

3. Pre-teaching vocabulary: select critical vocabulary that will help the student understand the text and build knowledge about each word e.g. formulate a definition, draw a picture/symbol to attach the word to an image, link it with a similar meaning word, link it to an opposite word. Link the word to the student's experience with a 'Have You Ever' question e.g. Have you ever critiqued a movie, chastised your brother or silenced your friend? Ask the student to describe what happened. Use an Idea Completion to give a starter sentence with the target word e.g. Yesterday the teacher chastised a student because.......On Masterchef, the judges critiqued the contestant's dish and said....

4. Mind maps: are an excellent way of taking the most important pieces of information in text and representing them visually. Key vocabulary can be used for sub-headings and helps students to make connections between words and concepts. Using pictures and symbols helps students create a visual image to aide placing the word into long-term memory.

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