3 Ways to Teach to Read

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3 Ways to Teach to Read
3 Ways to Teach to Read

Teaching someone to read is an extremely rewarding experience. Whether you are teaching your child to read their first book, or helping a friend improve their literacy skills, you can use the steps below as a very helpful teaching guide.


Method 1 of 3: Teaching the Basics

Teach Reading Step 1
Teach Reading Step 1

Step 1. Teach the alphabet

Learning to recognize the letters of the alphabet is the first step in learning to read. Use a poster, chalkboard, or notebook to write or show the alphabet. Show each letter to the student until he learns them all. Use alphabet music to help the student remember the letters.

  • Once the student knows the alphabet in order, challenge him by writing several letters out of order and asking him to arrange the letters.
  • You can also quote a letter and ask the student to indicate it.
  • When teaching a child, start with the letters of her name. This makes learning personal and important. When the child learns about the importance of writing his own name, he will be more excited by his studies.
Teach Reading Step 2
Teach Reading Step 2

Step 2. Teach the sounds

Once the student is familiar with the alphabet, you will have to teach him the sounds of each letter. Learning the name of the letters is not enough, as they can be pronounced differently depending on the word. For example, the sound of ç in the word "dog" is different from the sound of ç in the word "food." After students have mastered the individual letter sounds, they can practice mixing letter sounds to form words.

  • This knowledge of the basic sounds of spoken language and the ability to manipulate these sounds to form different sentences are part of phonological awareness.
  • Show letter by letter and teach the sounds each letter makes. Give examples of words starting with each letter and ask the student to give examples as well.
  • You could also try showing a word and asking the student what letter it starts with.
  • You can then familiarize students with common letter pairs that make specific sounds, such as “ch”, “xc”, “ss”, “rr” and “ão”.
Teach Reading Step 3
Teach Reading Step 3

Step 3. Teach short one-syllable words

The first words you should teach your student are short, one-syllable words. Beginners tend to do better with words that have a consonant-vowel-consonant pattern, such as SOL or MEL.

  • Begin by asking the student to read a simple one-syllable word such as "mother." Have the student say each letter and then try to read the word. If he makes a mistake, ask him again what sound the letter makes. The student will think and remember, or perhaps will have to be reminded. When the word is successfully read, congratulate the student.
  • Repeat this process with other simple one-syllable words. After a list of about five words has been created, go back to the beginning and see if the student can read the first word faster.
  • Continue to introduce more words, gradually introducing longer and more complex examples.
Teach Reading Step 4
Teach Reading Step 4

Step 4. Teach visual words

These are words that do not follow the normal spelling rules and therefore need to be memorized by readers. Some denote sounds that may be misunderstood by the student, such as "head" ("ss" sound), "dear" (letter "u" hidden in pronunciation), and "again". Many are used frequently, which is why it is very important that readers are able to recognize them immediately when they come across them in a text.

  • You can find lists of these words on the internet, in special sections of dictionaries or in any Portuguese book.
  • To teach visual words, try associating each word with an illustration. Showing visual words with illustrations to students, along with their printed versions, helps make important connections between the object and the word.
  • Figurines or posters with a color image and the word written below it are excellent teaching tools for these words.
  • Repetition is the key to learning visual words. Beginner readers should have the opportunity to read and write a new visual word several times. Repetitive reading of texts presenting some of these words is a good strategy to help students with memorization.
Teach Reading Step 5
Teach Reading Step 5

Step 5. Build vocabulary

A student's reading vocabulary is defined by the number of words he knows and understands while reading. Building your students' vocabulary is an essential component of teaching them to read. The larger the vocabulary, the more advanced the texts they will be able to read and understand. You can help your students improve their vocabulary in a few ways:

  • Encouraging them to read as much as possible and vary the type of text they read. As you read, ask your students to underline any words they don't know. Then you can explain or help them look up the meaning in the dictionary later.
  • Teaching definitions or other attributes of words, such as common root meanings, prefixes and suffixes.
  • Using association methods to help students draw connections between what they already know and words they don't already know. Compare a new word with a known synonym, for example.
Teach Reading Step 6
Teach Reading Step 6

Step 6. Build fluency

Fluency is the ability to read quickly and accurately, with proper rhythm, intonation and expression. Beginner readers do not have this ability. Because of this, they often suffer from reading texts that are beyond their "comfort" level. Building fluency with beginning readers is extremely important, as without it, a reader will struggle more to decode the words on the page than to understand the meaning of a text.

  • Some non-fluent readers will hesitate while reading, being unable to pronounce words or understand punctuation. Others will read without expression or feeling, running through the words without thinking about their meaning.
  • The best way to promote fluency in new readers is through repeated reading. In repeated reading, the student reads an excerpt many times, while the teacher provides feedback on levels of pace and accuracy, helps with difficult words, and builds fluent reading.
  • It is also important to ensure that the student is familiar with the different types of pronunciation. Find out if the student knows how a comma, a period, a question mark, and an exclamation mark affect the rhythm and intonation of the reading.
Teach Reading Step 7
Teach Reading Step 7

Step 7. Test reading comprehension

Reading comprehension is the process of constructing the meaning of the act of reading. To understand, a reader needs to decode words and associate them with their meanings. Even if the student is learning to read for work or leisure purposes, comprehension is the main objective.

  • To test a student's progress, you will need to assess their reading comprehension. Usually this can be done by asking him to read and answer a few questions about what he has read. Formats include multiple choice questions, short answers and fill-in-the-blank.
  • You can also assess your student's knowledge of comprehension strategies by asking questions as they read, asking for a summary of what they have just read, and noting how they read.

Method 2 of 3: Teaching Children

Teach Reading Step 8
Teach Reading Step 8

Step 1. Read to your child as much as you can

By doing this, you teach that reading is fun, and it also introduces you to the way written words sound when spoken aloud. Reading to the little ones is also a great bonding experience, and will help to plant a love of books in them.

  • You can start reading from the earliest years of his life. Use picture books, textbooks with fabric textures, and lullabies books for babies and toddlers. When they get a little older, you can introduce the alphabet and rhyming books.
  • Allow your child to be involved in the reading process by asking questions about the pictures and stories. This is not only a great opportunity to encourage your child to interact with the book, but it is also extremely effective in developing their ability to understand what they are reading.
  • While your child is a baby, ask them questions like, "See the kitten?" while pointing to the cat's picture. This will not only develop his vocabulary, it will also encourage him to interact with the book he is reading. When he gets older, ask him to point to things in the book and make the noises of the animals he sees.
Teach Reading Step 9
Teach Reading Step 9

Step 2. Set a good example

Even if your child has been fascinated with books from an early age, the fascination will quickly diminish if he doesn't see reading as a habit in your home. Children learn by example, so grab a book and show the little one that reading is something adults enjoy too.

Even if you're not an avid reader, consciously make an effort to let your kids see that you're reading something, at least for a few minutes a day

Teach Reading Step 10
Teach Reading Step 10

Step 3. Look at the photos

Looking at picture books is a great way to build vocabulary and help kids understand what's going on in a story. Before reading a new book, just flip through the pages, commenting on the photos. Show your child how to identify some context clues that will help them read.

  • Try to ask questions they can answer by looking at the photos. For example, if there is a word representing a color, challenge them to guess which word is in the image.
  • Celebrate correct answers and ask more questions to encourage them if they feel frustrated.
Teach Reading Step 11
Teach Reading Step 11

Step 4. Use variety

When choosing materials to help your children read, include a mix of phonetics books that they can eventually read on their own, slightly more advanced stories that you can read together, and fun materials they choose, such as comic books and magazines.

  • Using different types of materials and activities helps make learning to read a pleasure rather than a chore.
  • Do you have a favorite childhood book you want to share with your kids? If there's a book you've read over and over again, your love for it can be contagious.
Teach Reading Step 12
Teach Reading Step 12

Step 5. Be creative

A little creativity helps a lot when it comes to teaching children to read. If children are stimulated by the learning process, you will find it much easier to hold their attention, and they will learn much faster as a result. Be creative and make learning to read a fun activity.

  • Organize a show. You can make reading stories fun, and you can also help improve reading comprehension by playing with character embedding. Tell your kids that after reading the book together, you'll decide which character each will play. You can write a short script with them, create props and dress up in costumes or masks.
  • Try making play dough letters, writing in the sand at the beach, drawing on the carpet, or using those fabric-covered wires to create words.

Method 3 of 3: Teaching Adults

Teach Reading Step 13
Teach Reading Step 13

Step 1. Understand that teaching an adult to read is a difficult task

Adults are not as quick to learn new skills as children and may find it difficult to memorize the sounds of letters and words that a child would easily learn. However, teaching an adult to read is also an extremely rewarding experience. You will just need time and a considerable amount of patience.

  • Unlike children, adult students cannot spend several hours in a classroom each day. If they are struggling to cope with work and family life, they will only have a few hours a week at most to practice reading. This can significantly prolong the learning process.
  • Illiterate adults may also have had negative emotions and experiences associated with their inability to read, which can be difficult to overcome.
Teach Reading Step 14
Teach Reading Step 14

Step 2. Assess their ability

To find out where to start, you will need to assess the student's current reading ability. There are professional assessments to identify the level of reading, but you can ask him to read some specific text and take note of where he has more difficulties.

  • Keep looking at your student's level throughout the learning process.
  • If the student has difficulty with a particular skill or concept, take this as a starting point to help work on that skill.
Teach Reading Step 15
Teach Reading Step 15

Step 3. Convey security

The biggest challenge for an illiterate adult is to overcome insecurity about their ability to read. Many adults suffer from a lack of confidence and the fear of thinking it's too late to learn to read. Show confidence in their learning abilities and reassure them that it's never too late to start.

  • Reassure them that familiarity with spoken Portuguese and the vocabulary they already have will play an important role in learning.
  • Many adults have spent years hiding their inability to read from teachers, family members and co-workers. Explain that they don't need to feel any shame and that you respect their courage to rely on you to help them learn to read.
Teach Reading Step 16
Teach Reading Step 16

Step 4. Use appropriate materials

When teaching adults, look for materials that aren't too childish, or at least ask if they mind studying with children's materials. However, keep in mind that children's books can be materials that make it easier to start learning, as they use simple words and rhymes to reinforce the link between letter patterns and sounds.

  • Materials that are too complex or out of the student's comfort zone can be discouraging.
  • Using materials that are challenging but flexible will help build the capacity and confidence of the adult reader.
Teach Reading Step 17
Teach Reading Step 17

Step 5. Make learning relevant

Try to use materials that are interesting and relevant to the student. By using relevant materials, you will make the learning process feel less like a chore. The practical application of reading will also motivate the adult learner to learn to read.

  • Try using road signs, newspaper articles or restaurant menus when practicing reading.
  • Use technology by sending students every new word they have to learn via text message. This makes learning fun and relevant to everyday life.


  • Anyone can learn to read, no matter what age or level they got in school. Close help, a desire to learn, and the teacher's patience will eventually result in success.
  • The student must be motivated and commended for any effort.
  • The subject must be of interest to the student. This is essential. The ideas and concepts in the reading material should be familiar to the student. Talk about the text before reading.
  • Small frequent lessons are more valuable and less tiring for the teacher and student. Daily lessons will be more successful. Familiarity with the process will give the best results.
  • Go by parts.
  • One approach to reading may not be successful for all students. Often a combination of methods is the best idea.
  • In case of teaching children, it is necessary to teach in small games. Children learn best by playing.


  • One approach to reading may not be successful for all students. Often a combination of methods is the best idea.
  • Try to "get under the skin" of the student if you notice their difficulty with certain letters. If you suspect other learning disabilities, seek professional help to identify them so that both of you can work around them.
  • Different commercials for "learning to read" programs are based on different methods. You may want to find a phonetics-based program to work alongside other materials of interest to the student.

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