Episode 20: Q&A – Visualizing to Enhance Reading Comprehension


 Episode #20 – Transcript

Hey there!  Welcome to another Question & Answer edition of the Bilingual Avenue podcast.  I want to thank you for taking the time to tune in and for your support on this journey! It’s been a very exciting ride so far producing the podcast and I find it so refreshing when I hear from you that you are finding the information helpful!  So thank you!

If you have not signed up for the newsletter yet and want to stay in touch with the latest happenings at Bilingual Avenue, you can do so by heading over to bilingualavenue.com/newsletter. I send out a monthly newsletter with additional tips and strategies.

On today’s episode we are picking up where we left off last week.  I received a question from a listener asking for some advice to improve his son’s reading comprehension.  Let me play you an excerpt of the question to make sure we are all on the same page.

Question: “… My oldest son is seven and he is doing very well speaking and reading in both languages but sometimes when I ask him questions in Spanish about the story he is reading, I can tell that he knows the words but doesn’t always understand the story.  Do you have any ideas of how I can help him understand the books he is reading better? Thank you!”

As I mentioned on the last podcast, there are several reading comprehension strategies applicable for monolingual and multilingual children.  So I decided to do a mini series over the next few weeks to discuss some of my favorite ones.  If this is your first time coming across this series, I suggest you start at the beginning.  Check out episode 18 first, and then pick up here on episode 20.

One more thing before I introduce the new strategy.  Last week, we talked about the value of making connections as your child reads a story.  To make things easier for you, I created a free guide to help you along.  You can find ideas for what types of questions to ask your child and some worksheets where you can also write or draw their connections.  Like I said, the guide is completely free.  I just happen to love this strategy and know that it can help your child’s reading comprehension. So if you are interested, grab your copy at bilingualavenue.com/makingconnections and I will send that your way!

Click Here to get the “Making Connections” Guide

Alright, so now we are ready for this week’s strategy, visualizing!

Let’s start by defining it.  The name is pretty straight forward and it is probably exactly what you imagine it to be.  It is our ability to create pictures in our head based on what we are reading or what we are hearing.

You may think that this is a strategy that you would skip if your children are only capable of reading pictures books because you already have an image to accompany the text.  I would actually encourage you not to do so.  Even with picture books, don’t’ disregard this strategy.  If you implement it right you can encourage their little minds to imagine so much more than what is already drawn right in front of them!

What makes visualization so amazing is that it helps readers to internalize the text in ways that make it more personable and memorable for them!  I also find it really neat that readers, in general, adjust what they are visualizing as they read more about the story and have more context for what is happening in the text in front of them.  So the more input they have the more complex their visualization becomes.

So we defined the strategy.  Now how can we implement it and get our kids to start applying it when they read?

Just like making connections, you want to model the strategy!  Once again, start with a book that is a familiar to your child.  As you read a page or a short passage, describe to your child what you are visualizing in your mind.  Make sure you are pausing quite a bit when you are first modeling the strategy.  Let them know that you are stopping to reflect on what you have just read.  And then using the pause to picture in your head what the words are describing.  Make sure that your descriptions include concepts that are relatable to your children.

You can say things like “As I read that passage, I reflected on what I read and I pictured what the characters in the story looked like.” And then go ahead and describe that for them.  Other ideas for what you could encourage your child to visualize are what the characters were doing, what the surroundings were like, get creative!

Some children may find it helpful to close their eyes as you read the story and think about what is being read to them but others may find it hard to stay alert once they close their eyes so you can play that by ear.

Once you feel like you have modeled a few times and your child seems to be understanding the concept, let them try it out.  You’ll probably want to use a different story but find one that lends itself to some good visualization.  You want them to take ownership of the activity but you also want to make sure that they are stopping at different points in the story to reflect and visualize.  If you are doing this as a family activity, have them share with you what they are visualizing.

If your child enjoys drawing, you could have them draw their visualization and likewise if they enjoy writing or you are looking for more ways to practice their writing skills, have them jot down in a few sentences what they visualized after reading the text.

One thing to note is that the process of visualizing can take some time to carry out.  In other words, it is not going to be one of those strategies that you can fit in when you are in a rush to get the kids to bed for example.  So it may take some planning ahead.  However, it is a really powerful exercise.  Once your children have caught on to how it works, make sure to reinforce it by practicing from time to time.

Visualization really is a powerful strategy and when incorporated into a child’s reading routine it can certainly help to enhance reading comprehension.

I want first off thank our listener who asked this question Rafael for submitting your question and to everyone else who is tuning in to this reading comprehension series and the other podcast episodes.

Remember, you can ask a question too! All you have to do is head over to bilingualavenue.com/contact and leave an audio message.  We’ll feature your question on a future podcast.

May you have fun travels on your language journey.  Hope to see you again on the avenue.

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