Practical Guide to Teach Print Concepts

Teaching Print Concepts to ELL students

print concepts
Ell students love to listen to books.

Before children ever get to school, they should be listening to books read to them.  They enjoy hearing stories and it really helps them develop language critical to early literacy. English language learners may have heard stories read to them in their native language.  This will help with their  early literacy skills in L1 and eventually L2.  They do not even have to be reading when they learn  “print concepts.”

When you read to students all you have to do is use  “self-talk” as you are reading the books. These are basic things you automatically do when you are reading that children do not always notice. You have to make what you are doing explicit. They may pick this up just by watching but it is more effective if you use “self-talk.” There are “self-talk” words to use as you are reading. Be sure not to try teaching this all in one setting.

Practice Self-Talk

Just add one self-talk idea at a time and review from time to time.

  • Show them the front and back of the book and how we treat books (carefully!)
  • Tell them what the author does and what the illustrator does as you point to their names.
  • Mention which page you start on and which word you read first.
  • Talk about the direction you read words and what you do when you finish reading the first page.
  • Show them how you do a “return-sweep” with your finger when there is more than one line of text.
  • Occasionally, point to a line of text, word-by-word, and ask the students to repeat the sentence with you.
  • Tell them the difference between a word and a sentence.



print concepts
Check your students neighborhood for a Little Free Library or start one!

It’s Your Turn:

  • Read stories to your ELL students
  • Develop language
  • Teach early literacy skills
  • Develop print concepts

Practice Self-Talk

  • Use self-talk about how books work
  • Teach one idea at a time
  • Review ideas from time to time
  • Research for more print activities you can do 

For further ideas – check out the following…..






Super Tips to Read Environmental Print with ELL Students

How to Read Environmental Print 

Reading Environmental Print with ELL Students

environmental print
McDonalds – ELL’s  can read this logo.

The most often overlooked way of learning to read is environmental print. Books are not the only way that students  learn to read. Scores of early reading experiences happen even before school starts. 

Environmental print is familiar signs that a child recognizes in their life.  Even before they know what the word says, they know what it means.  How many children recognize the McDonald’s logo?  Nearly all of them! However, it is what you can do next that makes this learning exciting!

Print Logos from Internet

Once your student recognizes signs, print the logo from the Internet. Next, make a “read-it-yourself” book using the logo. Use a few simple words on each page when you tell the story about the time they saw that logo. You can even have your students  help you with the writing! Remember to use the child’s name in the book. Finally, read the book just like you read other books. This will quickly become their favorite!

environmental print
Some environmental print keeps you safe.

Which logos are important?  The ones that teach safety, or the ones that brings positive memories.  It can even be an event that started out to be a little stressful.  A trip to the hospital for a broken arm may seem stressful.  A book about that event after it is over will help them remember everything turned out fine. This print is really great for early reading experiences.

For more ideas go to…….



It’s Your Turn:

Read Environmental Print

  • Notice signs
  • Point to the sign when you see it
  • Name the sign
  • Read the sign

Print Environmental Print

  • Print environmental print logos from the Internet
  • Make a book with the logos
  • Keep the book and the memory forever
  • Reread the book often