Paired reading for fast learning

This really needs to be demonstrated as a video, because it runs counter to existing videos in speed of learning and reducing anxiety in 'reading aloud' or answering questions. A condensed example follows these instructions.

Learning to read with BOOKS the learner chooses

HOW TO do paired reading has gnerally been neglected, so that the learner has often either coasted, or felt anxious and often reluctant, when required to 'read to'.

Here is a summary of sequence of reading for Learner A with an adult or other 'better reader' B.
One reluctant-reader aged 7 who had to be taught letters and sounds from the Alphabet Chart and plastic letters (See abchart when it is ready) then learnt how to read books by this method in two weeks, with daily sessions, learning from her own choice, C S Lewis' storybook Prince Caspian.

General principles

    • The Learner selects the book for reading, and after a brief intro by Reader B, they try it for a page of so to see if they would like to continue with it. No predicting of what might happen - curiosity about what will happen is a major reason for reading.
    • The main thing is not to break the storyline, the reason for reading, except when the learner wants to ask questions about the content. There is NO repetition of words, although the Reader B may re-read sentences to make sure the meaning is clear. That is, if there has been a hesitation, A can read the full sentence again as a recap and go on naturally.
    • After a paragraph, A can ask questions and B can explain any unknown words or ideas, but if the storyline is clear, don't bother unless A asks.
    • Learner A is in control, and is to feel in control.
    • Always stop just before A is getting bored or tired. Never read when A doesn't want to.
    • Learner A looks after the book, so that A can have a shot at reading privately any time, (and mark any difficult words to ask B any time, eg. at the next reading session).

First - have some idea of the Learner's level. If they have some reading ability, on a page of any reading in a decent size print, "Underline in coloured felt-pen the words that you can read." Even if the words are only 'the' and 'of' this gives a comforting idea of how much you actually can read.

Second - make sure that beginners know the letters and their usual sounds, so that they can start using even initial letters in sounding out words in reading. Even adults who seem to have some sight reading may not know this!

Third - a two-week crash course with daily reading together is far more effective than a session a week for ages. In between sessions, Learner A has the book, to have a shot at re-reading or reading on.

Fourth - Each new session begins with a quick revision - A and B together recapitulating what has gone before, flicking rather than reading through the pages, so there is the sort of fast visual recognition and revision of the pages that A is used to with pictures on fast TV.

Sequence of reading sessions

Reading sequence illustrated with a real beginner: Both A and B have biro-ends or other pointing devices.

First sequence. Reader B reads with expression, running a biro-end under the lines. Every few lines, pause with a pointer at a word you know that Learner A knows, for A to fill in, - a word that can also be predicted by context.

2.Next this should start to include names of main character and then other characters. If A points back, just go straight on without losing the sense. Recap the phrase or line if necessary to ensure storyline is kept.

Learner A must NEVER REPEAT a given word so that the sense of the storyline is lost. (Yet this is a very common, almost automatic practice, that must be stopped. You will find Learners recognise the word better the next time if they have NOT repeated it.)

Sometimes after a paragraph, a comment as an aside may be made on some particularly silly spelling, using the biro-end to point it out and how it is silly.

As soon as B senses that A is about to show the first sign of tiring, B continues reading the story a few lines more to a good stopping point, just for uninterrupted story-reading to raise interest, before the session stops.

3. Next In a later session, B reads and starts pausing with pointer at some recurring easy words. A can have a shot, starting with sounding the first letter, but if A points at the word too, B immediately gives it, sounding it out a bit slowly, with emphasis on initial letter/s and goes on without losing storyline. ("And what should come along but a great, big K-A-NG- GA -" by that time or before, Learner A should have come out with 'KANGAROO!")

As soon as A shows the first sign of tiring, and if possible, before, B continues reading the story a little more to a good stopping point, just for uninterrupted story-reading to raise interest, before the session stops.

4. Next When A is able to read more and more words, B may suggest having a shot at whole phrases or a sentence, with Learner A pointing at the words A wants B to fill in, which B immediately does so that storyline continues.

As soon as A shows the first sign of tiring, B continues reading the story a little more, to a good stopping point, just for uninterrupted story-reading to raise interest, before the session stops.

5. Next Move on to reading sentence by sentence, with Learner A pointing to any words in A's sentence B is to read. As soon as A shows the first sign of tiring, B continues reading the story a little more, just for uninterrupted story-reading to raise interest, before the session stops.

By now you are reading a short chapter each session.
And A will be reading more and more on their own outside the sessions.

6. Next. Sometimes A may ttry a complete paragraph, pointing to any words A wants B to read. And then a series of paragraphs, turn about, and then even a chapter, but stopping for B to take over as soon as A feels tired, or to help read difficult words. And A will be reading more and more on their own outside the sessions.

7.Progress seen! When progress is clearly being made, let A mark over the same paragraph again that was marked at the beginning of 'Words I can read' , so that A can see progress.

An example of 'Reading with.

1. Each paragraph here illustrates one step in 'Reading with'. Bold red type represents what the Learner's may be able to contribute - but it may be more, or it may be less.

2. The Learner knows beforehand to ask about anything not understood, and is given an example about the sort of questions they may want to ask - for example, What is a Folk Story? Where is Denmark?

3. Note the value of the fact that the Learner is looking on and taking part together in a proper story-reading helps the Learner to learn what Reader B is reading too, both in word recognition and content comprehension,
more than just looking on, or trying to say together, or struggling to read what is difficult.

4. If you print this out or download it, change the font and type-sizes and spacing to suit your Learner. The present layout is simply to suit most browsers.

The man who found a box of gold

A Danish fairy story
with an alternating learning reader and a more skilled reader

~ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ ~


A. Once upon a time a poor man named Dag was digging his fields. Then he cried out, because what should he dig up but a great box full of gold money. He was so lucky to find so much!

L. "What a lucky man I am, " Dag cried.

A. "The man who buried this money in my field is dead, long ago. Well, so it is now my money. I will be as rich as a lord, and I will live in a very big house, and my wife will dress like a lady, like everyone in the town. I will run home aand tell my wife.

L. Then Dag went home to his house, with his box of gold money.

A. "See the gold I have found," he said to his wife Lena. "It's a treasure of gold that was buried in the field where I was plowing. I think I am the luckiest man in the world.

L. "Well, " Lena said. "I did not think there was so much gold in the world. I will run and tell everyone.

A. "No, Lena, you must never tell everyone ," said Dag. "We must not tell anyone of our good luck or we will lose it all. You must not say a word.

L. "Very well, I will not say a word," said Lena.

A. Lena meant to keep quiet about the treasure. But somehow or other, a word was dropped here and another word dropped there, and soon everyone around knew all about it, and then they told everyone else. At last the news reached the Lord Anders, Lord of othe place, until finally the news reached Lord Anders, the lord of the district.

L. "Well," said Lord Anders,"This must be my money."

A. Lord Anders said "I never knew anyone to have any money around here except me and my family, so that good money must belong to me and I mean to have it."Lord Anders told his servant to saddle his horse, Then away he rode on his horse to the farmer's poor little house.

L. The farmer was away, but his wife was at home.

A. Dag had gone to town to put his money in the bank that day.

L."Good day," said Lord Anders,

A. "I hear you are doing very well these days." "Not too bad ," said the good woman. "But of course," said Lord Anders, "You must work hard hard from morning to night to earn your bread."

L."Not at all," said Lena."We do not work much at all now."

A. ""You say that!" said the lord Anders. "That is very strange. I would have thought that you must work your hands to the bone on your poor little farm."

L."We are very lucky," said Lena.

A. Lena said, "My husband found a big treasure of gold when he was out digging one day, and now we can sit and take life easy for the rest of our days." "How I would like to see that treasure," said Anders. "In spite of all my lands and my castle, I am really a poor man."

L." I have never seen a treasure of gold." said Lord Anders.

(The rest of the story is available. Do not worry.  The farmer and his wife do not lose their treasure, but they nearly did.)

Let me know how you go, and raise any issues at any time.