What do you do when your student doesn’t want to read the books you have available? One way to get your student eager to read and write is to use the Language Experience Approach.
The Language Experience Approach is a proven technique that will help your reluctant student get excited to read and write by helping them bring their interests into the content of what they read and write. The technique is based on activities and stories developed from personal experiences of the learner.
When incorporating the Language Experience Approach with your student, follow the following steps:
1) Focus on an experience that is common to your student (e.g., going shopping, mailing a letter, going to the doctor, going to the movie, etc.)
2) Generate vocabulary that authors would use if they were writing about the topic you chose in step 1.
3) While you have them talk about the topic chosen in step 1, record your student’s dictation. Copy what they say word for word making sure you don’t rephrase anything that they say. You want it to be in their own words! Also, as you dictate their words, make sure that the student can clearly see what you are writing.
4) Read the text you wrote in step 3 out loud. As you read, model fluency and help them make connections between what is said and what is written by pointing to the words one by one. Answer any questions that they may have.
5) After modeling it for your student, have them read and reread the text orally and silently. This will help them develop fluency.
6) Once the student is familiar with all of the text, begin to focus on smaller components such as sentences and words. This will help the student with their word recognition skills. It may also be a good idea to used word cards or sentence strips so that you may manipulate the text with your student.
The LEA method can be used in several different ways and you don’t necessarily have to follow the exact steps above, but some characteristics of the technique remain consistent no matter how the method is used.
First off, the materials are always learner-generated. The essence of the LEA method is to obtain the material directly from your student so make sure everything is generated from your student.
Secondly, the method always integrates all communication skills—reading, writing, listening, and speaking. This method acts as a natural bridge linking what is written with what is spoken.
Next, the level and difficulty of the grammar and vocabulary are always determined by your student’s own language use. This allows them to have confidence and to not be timid with the activity.
Lastly, the learning and teaching within the LEA method is always personalized, communicative, and creative. Get as creative as you want with the topic or experience you choose with your student. The more creative and personalized the topic, the more effective the lesson will become.
If your student’s native language is something other than English, keep in mind that they bring with them the understanding of the structure of their native language. For example, where an adjective is placed or where the verb comes in the sentence may be different between their native language and English. Through the Language Experience Approach you can model how the syntactical structure of English is either the same or different then their native language.
The tutor training handbook also includes more information about the Learning Experience Approach that can be helpful as you look to use this method with your student.