Reading and Writing Skills for Beginner ELL Students

There is debate whether or not to teach beginner students reading and writing skills before their oral language has developed. I say yes! Go for it! Even though my ESL students did not know any English, I began teaching them letter names, sounds, basic sight words as well as phonological and phonemic awareness skills from the very beginning. Since the ESL teacher’s goal is to catch ESL students up to their peers as quickly and effectively as possible, there is no time to waste! Also, I never encountered any problems with teaching all four skills right from the beginning. In addition, oral and written language often overlap since beginners are reading and writing simple sentences that reflect how we speak. For example, ESL students can learn common sight words from the simple sentences they learn from grammar instruction such as I, am, is, are, come, from, can, like, have, etc. In addition, students read these words in simple texts at their instructional reading level as well as write these words in writing pieces.

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