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10 reading tips for bilingual struggling readers

struggling readers

Every reader wants to improve his or her reading skills. Every parent or caregiver wants their children to improve their language skills. And every educator is concerned that not enough is done.

However, bilingual readers seem to struggle the most. By not fully knowing one particular language (whether native or not), the struggling reader has challenges assimilating the necessary reading skills to succeed.

But children that are struggling to learn to read do not have to suffer. They do not have to end as part of yet another statistic, where more than 8% of high school students decided not to continue school and drop out.

Although struggling reading skills play a small part in their decision, this area can be improved. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported in 2009 that about 17% of the population was Hispanic high school dropouts.

The lowest rate it has been since 1980, emphasizing that no matter your ethnic background and economic situation, struggling reading skills can be improved.

Tips to Help Bilingual Struggling Readers

By working together, children with reading challenges can succeed in school. Here are 10 ways to improve the reading skills in children. Some of these tips can be done simultaneous or in conjunction with other useful tips. In the end, it should benefit the struggling reader.

1. Get a good dictionary:

Getting a dictionary should be a basic improvement in any struggling reader. A dictionary is the foundation of learning, defining, and understanding the phonics of words.

Furthermore, with a bilingual dictionary, meaningless words should become clearer. It should also increase the reader’s vocabulary content.

2. Read more challenging books:

Select books that can challenge the understanding or comprehension level of the bilingual struggling reader. For early readers, select books with simple words and sentences.

Once they have mastered this level, add more complex books. And eventually move onto other levels. Parents can find some of these books color-coded or by number level.

3. Practice syllable formation:

As reading become more comfortable for struggling readers, start to sound out syllables. This can be a very fun activity for beginner readers.

Some fun ways to introduce syllable formation are clapping, playing some maracas, bells, or tambourines. Early readers should recognize one-syllable words and move onto more complex syllables.

4. Comprehension is key:

Select materials that can enhance the comprehension level of the struggling reader. For beginners, it is sometimes useful to read together and point the basic words in sentences.

It’s always great to ask questions and interact with the reader on the story. Always encourage questions and more questions about the story.

5. Build to more complex sentences:

In essence, the bilingual struggling reader should build up to more complex sentences. From basic sentences to complicated ones, the struggling reader should be able to move on at his or her pace.

6. Listen to educational music:

This is sometimes the most fun way for struggling readers to learn to read. Select lyrics that are fun to rhyme or just fun to sing along with.

Many of the classic nursery rhymes are now bilingual and easy to sing along with.

7. Watch videos suggesting pronunciation:

Viewing another person spell out or speak the words is another basic step for struggling readers. In this way, readers are able to pronounce and say the syllables out loud as another person is saying it.

Bilingual readers may have a difficult time to pronounce certain words. But with the help of suggested videos, they might be able to tune in to particular vowel or consonant formation.

8. Read bilingual magazines:

There are a variety of magazines for all reading levels. Select the ones that is the most appealing to the struggling reader. Magazines are great tools to read for their short articles and factual content.

9. Visit bilingual web sites:

Select web sites that are safe and are geared towards the readers reading level.

There are many great web sites that can help struggling readers improve their skills. Look for sample exercises, interactive programs, and easy printouts, if possible.

10. Cope with learning disabilities:

Many struggling readers are sometimes misdiagnosed with a learning disability like dyslexia, ADHD, and autism. There are many more learning disabilities that can be misrepresented, which can deter the learning ability to read.

But parents and caregivers should address any concerns with their medical and educational professionals.

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3 methods in learning Spanish: Translation, interpretation and transcription

methods in learning spanish

When looking up for that word that has endless meaning or you just don’t know what it means, what do you do? Do you run to your electronic dictionary tucked away in your pocket or cellular phone? Or, better yet, do you have an electronic device that translates words for you? But let’s consider that using translators has to be the last resort to use when trying to figure out the meaning of a word.


Translate derives from the Latin L. translatus and trans- means across. Hence, translate signifies to move across to another place or to write or speak words into another language. Some translators may not even translate the word properly and others may not be in tune with the cultural aspect of the foreign language.

For example, if you’re trying to translate the Spanish word taco, it can be translated into several ways: Mexican dish, shoe heel, a wad of papers, book, cue, cube, and many more. Imagine if you’re trying to write a paper or essay and need to use the word taco. Which one would you use?

Which one would you know to use? You have to use a different source such as an encyclopedia or an educational Internet website. As a matter of fact, translators should be used very rarely in conversations, meetings, or speeches. In these cases, interpreters should be used to translate with accuracy from one language to another.



Interpretation derives from the Latin L. interpres to negotiate and inter- means between or among. Hence, interpretation is to explain or provide one’s interpretation of something. In this case, interpreters are an excellent source to provide proper information about a word or phrase based on the cultural experience.

Interpreters can provide the necessary tools to translate that unknown word, phrase, or article and give it the right meaning. But you don’t have to solely rely on a person interpreter to obtain a translation of a word.

Sometimes, to gather information about certain words and phrases can come from attending Spanish classes or immersion classes. To grasp a better understanding about the language, it is even better to live it – in foreign exchange classes. Sometimes you might need a transcription of certain words or phrases.


Transcription derives from the Latin trans, which means over and scribere, which means to write. In other words, transcription is the ability to make a written recording or copy of words. Transcripts are more commonly used in court hearings or medical professionals.

Court reporters or stenographers use a special device called stenography to record all court events. Medical transcriptionist converts medical recordings to text. Transcripts are also used for transcribing Spanish textbooks or workbooks.

Authors may transcribe recording notes. But Spanish learners would rarely use this type of language learning method.

Translation, interpretation, and transcription denote different meaning in many cases. Which one would you use to better represent that unknowingly word or phrase? It all depends on how you want to use it in context.

What method have you used recently to learn Spanish?

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Facts about illiteracy: Helping struggling readers


According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), more than 19,000 adults (ages 16 years old and over) in the US alone participated in the study. In fact, more than 1,200 inmates were evaluated in the program. Yes, that’s right, millions of people in the U.S. don’t know how to read or write. These are young adults or seniors who don’t have the capability to read.

In an extensive study compiled in 2003, NAAL informs that more than 30 million Americans who don’t know how to read or write in comparison to studies in 1992. The 2003 study further states that 15% of the total NAAL population did not graduate high school. These are alarming statistics that speak for themselves.


Helping Struggling Readers Succeed

As educators, the responsibility to promote literacy starts at home. Literacy begins at a young age and at home, not just school. No matter the cultural background, students can still learn to read and write. Perhaps, they might have a learning disability that was misdiagnosed or misrepresented. With so many new learning techniques and tools, the struggling reader can learn to read and write. As the National Right to Read Foundation (NRRF) better puts it,

“[t]eaching children to read is the most important objective educators have to accomplish. Reading is a prerequisite for everything else, not only in school but in life itself.”

It all starts at home.

Moreover, these statistics further suggest that young adults are not graduating high school or completing a General Educational Development or better known as G. E. D. program. It’s further represented in a yearly study by the U.S. Dept. of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. It states that the dropout rate has decreased from 14% (in 1980) to 8.1% (in 2009).

Yet, there’s still more that needs to be done. Enforcing the importance of continuing education and providing the necessary tools to succeed are vital to maintaining those low statistics. There are many programs that are free or low-cost, which can help someone in need of a GED preparation. Students can always find more information at the American Council on Education or their local library.

Finding the right educational tools to prepare for learning to read and write can sometimes be a challenge. But students shouldn’t feel frustrated. Asking for help is the first step in getting closer to learning to read better or improving those reading skills.