Use Complex Texts to Develop Academic Language

While many educators have simplified or chosen to use easier texts, complex texts are the very thing that academic English learners need. Written texts, in particular, provide high concentrations of academic language (Wong-Fillmore & Fillmore, 2011). As a reader processes the language and creates meaning from it, the reader's mind stores up new terms, syntax, ways of organizing knowledge, and ways to describe thinking processes. Most of this “storage” is subconscious. What is certain is that when students read and understand large quantities of academic texts, their academic language abilities increase across the board: reading, writing, listening, speaking, and even interacting. As you teach students using complex texts, remember that it's not just access to the content that we desire for our students, but also ownership of its language and ideas.

TOOLS

Wide-Angle Reading Framework Visual Organizer  
While "close reading" has gained a lot of attention lately, Wide-Angle Reading is also vital for comprehension. It allows and requires a reader to start comprehending by looking at the purpose(s) of the text and how the text's elements support it. This visual shows readers how to frame the many insights and pieces of evidence, which often come from close reading of specific sentences and sections of the text. 

Comprehension Target
The Comprehension Target helps students see how to evaluate the usefulness of their reading strategies for comprehension in order to keep, modify, and prune thoughts.

Anticipation Guides
These visuals help students to predict and justify their predictions for reading.

Figure out the Figuratives
This visual helps students to see the connections between the figurative expression and what it is describing.

Theme Organizer
This visual helps students to see ways in which to generate and support multiple themes from different types of texts.

Narrative Structure Map
This visual helps students to organize events in a typical narrative.