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…..




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