Comprehension gives the act of reading a purpose and opens the door to enjoyment of reading. Indeed, deriving meaning from text is why we bother reading at all! Comprehension can be a struggle for any student, but often it’s especially challenging for multilingual students. What can we do to set them up for success in Read Naturally Live and Read Naturally Live—Español?

Turn on the supplemental read along.

Especially if a student is working in a program in a new language, turning on the supplemental read along in their primary language will help them build the context needed to understand the story.

Print the stories in the student’s primary language.

You can print stories from the Read Live homepage. The English versions of stories can be accessed under the Read Naturally Live tile, and the Spanish versions of stories can be accessed under the Read Naturally Live—Español tile. The versions are not always exact translations of each other but can still be useful to a multilingual student struggling with comprehension. This is a good option for students that have a difficult time reading the quiz questions in the new language.

Encourage students to click on all the vocabulary words (in blue) during the practice step.

The definitions and sample sentences that pop up when a student clicks on a vocabulary word do not include translations. However, the more words they click on and the more time they spend in the program, the more vocabulary they will develop. Clicking on vocabulary words is a great practice for all students. You can also have students record difficult vocabulary on our printable Difficult Word List.

Give students access to a Spanish/English dictionary.

Offering students a physical Spanish/English dictionary or teaching them to use an online resource such as can be very beneficial. In this context, looking up vocabulary words isn’t cheating! Dictionaries can be great resources for multilingual students who are struggling with their vocabulary or overall comprehension.

Print out the Read Naturally Encore II glossaries or download them on your students’ devices.

Please note that the Encore II glossaries will not always be an exact match for the vocabulary in Read Live programs, but having the entire vocab list accessible could be helpful to some students.

Make adjustments for steps involving keyboarding (Prediction and Retell).

Both the Prediction and the Retell steps may be turned off if a student is really struggling to type or form their own sentences. If this is the case, it may be more valuable for the student to spend their time on the other steps. That said, if you have a low student-to-teacher ratio, you may have time to assist struggling students with keyboarding steps by either typing for them or simply talking them through the step.

Additionally, consider allowing the student to complete keyboarding steps in their primary language if it is too difficult for them to do so in the new language. Their response will still demonstrate comprehension (or lack thereof) of the text regardless of the language the student writes in. In this case, it is helpful to have a working understanding of the language the student writes in. Otherwise, you may need to keep a Spanish/English dictionary on hand for yourself.

Note that some short-answer questions cannot be turned off. If the student cannot answer these questions independently, you may instruct them to type something (e.g., the story title, their name, a question mark, etc.) into the text box so that they can move on to the next step. When you evaluate their quiz, you may take that opportunity to talk through the question with them to check for understanding.

Check the student’s comprehension graph to see if there are patterns in the category of questions they struggle with.

If possible, find time to sit with students while they’re working on a question type they struggle with so that you can see where the trouble is and provide appropriate guidance.

Read the questions out loud.

Some students who really struggle with fluency may not be able to read the questions at all, and therefore won’t be able to answer them correctly. If the student speaks the language fluently but does not yet read fluently, you can support them by reading the questions out loud for them. This will be more manageable with a lower student-to-teacher ratio.

Consider comprehension scores when checking initial placement.

When a student is placed appropriately for rate (using the built-in placement test), but the average quiz score on the first three stories is below 60%, we recommend lowering to the nearest level and have the student complete three stories in the new level. If the student is still scoring below 60% average, lower the level again. Continue this process until the student is working in a level where the comprehension average for the first three stories is at or above 60%. That is the level where comprehension should begin to grow.