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Shared Reading in the Preschool and Elementary Spanish Class

What is shared reading?

At Sonrisas Spanish School, when we read stories during our preschool and elementary Spanish classes, we use a form of storytelling that is commonly called “shared reading” in the educational world. In her book Invitations, Regie Routman defines shared reading as “any rewarding reading situation in which a learner—or group of learners—sees the text, observes the expert reading it with fluency and expression, and is invited to read along.” The atmosphere during shared reading is relaxed and social with an emphasis on enjoying and appreciating the text. In shared reading, students learn high-frequency words and conventions of print naturally, without boring drill. Sharing stories in this manner serves as an effective foundation for reading and writing Spanish. Preschool and elementary Spanish students often begin reading in Spanish in our classes with very little formal reading instruction.

What does shared reading look like?

Have students gather together, preferably on the floor. Make sure that each student has a clear view of the book. Begin by introducing the book. This is your opportunity to “hook” students by piquing their curiosity and enthusiasm. As you begin to read the story, engage students in the reading process by asking questions and using the pictures to review previously learned vocabulary. For example: You can point to different characters in the story and ask, “¿Cómo se llama?” and “¿Cómo está?” You can point to different images and ask, “¿De qué color es el/la ___?” When the story includes repetition or predictable text, encourage students to join in and participate in the storytelling.

As with all activities in Spanish class, there should be no pressure for students to perform. When asking questions, address the entire group or ask for volunteers. Try not to single out any student who may feel uncomfortable speaking. If you feel the need to engage a particularly quiet child or to check a student’s understanding, perhaps you could ask her, in Spanish, to point to a picture.

Pacing is very important during shared reading: Keep the story flowing and keep opportunities for questions and answers simple. Often, the themes in the stories lend themselves to many teaching moments. Choose one or two concepts to teach in the story and save the rest for another lesson.

Sonrisas Spanish School creates, publishes, and sells preschool and elementary Spanish curriculum and Spanish music for children. The Sonrisas Spanish School Curriculum can be used to teach Spanish to children at the preschool and elementary level, as well as home school Spanish. The Sonrisas Curriculum consists of fun, effective, standards-based lessons for the most effective language-learning experience for kids—one based on human-to-human interaction.

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