Steps for Creating a Language Experience Story: Video Demonstration

We filmed this series of videos to demonstrate the steps in creating a Language Experience Story. Depending on your student's skill level and the complexity of the story, these lessons may take several sessions to complete. Regardless, the steps are always the same and can be divided into Before, During, and After activities

Before Activities - Discussion, Activating Prior Knowledge, and Organizing the Story

Video One: Discussion

In this video, the tutor and student are discussing an event the student attended. The discussion can be about any topic - shopping, attending church, enjoying a family get-together, waiting in line at the bank, watching a sports event, etc.. The pair are relaxed, and the student is describing a situation he has actually experienced using his own words. This step is important in activating your student's prior knowledge and linking learning to his real life experiences.

The tutor does not lead the discussion but prompts the student to continue. As partners in learning, they decide to pursue the topic further in the next lesson.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Video Two: Activating Prior Knowledge and Using the K-W-L Chart

To put the student at ease and to reflect on the last session, the pair begins with a short review of their first conversation. The tutor then takes the process one step further, using a graphic organizer. As the student talks, the tutor fills in a K-W-L chart. By filling in "What I Know," the tutor is activating the student's prior knowledge. By filling in "What I Want to Know," the tutor is generating interest in the text. The tutor asks the student to find out more about the topic as independent work. This step teaches the student that he can find information on his own or with the help of someone he trusts.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Click here to print a blank K-W-L Chart.

Click here for instructions on how to use a K-W-L Chart to activate prior knowledge and generate interest in a text.

Video Three: Language Experience Approach: Further Discussion and Using the K-W-L Chart

After finding information about the topic independently, the student discusses "What I Learned" and "What I Still Need to Know." This intermediary step demonstrates how a tutor can extend the student's ownership of his own learning and that a student's thoughts and past experiences are valuable contributions.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

During Activities - Using a Graphic Organizer to Organize the Story

Video Four:
Creating a Mind Map as the Student Talks

As the students recalls the event, the tutor uses a graphic organizer to diagram the story. These graphic visuals are helpful in organizing thoughts before writing or when recalling the story at a later date. In this way, the tutor uses several learning styles - by listening, speaking, and using a visual graphic organizer - to develop the story.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Image of a good mind map/graphic organizer. (Click on the image for a larger version)

Image of a great mind map/graphic organizer. Note how the main topics and subtopics are easier to find due to color differentiation. (Click on the image for a larger version)

Video Five: Dictating and Writing the Story Using the Mind Map

To begin the story, the tutor asks the student to choose one topic area on the graphic organizer to develop further. As the student talks, the tutor writes down his words exactly as spoken, printing the words and using double spacing between the lines. No changes must be made, since this is the student's story and the tutor merely acts as a scribe. The tutor writes down the story exactly as dictated, even with grammatical errors, but the words should be spelled correctly. No changes should be made unless they come from the student.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Video Six: Reading Together

The tutor asks the student to read his story out loud. He will soon be able to do this on his own because the story is composed of his own words. The student might be hesitant at first, which is when the tutor can assist in the reading using a technique called Echo Reading. In “Echo Reading,” the tutor reads out loud. The student reads out loud as well, following close behind. As soon as the student demonstrates confidence in reading alone, the tutor lets him take over.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Click here to read directions for Echo Reading.

After Activities - Word Identification Activities and Transferring Reading Strategies

Video Seven: Word Identification Skills

The tutor and student review the story, making any changes that the student suggests. In this proofing and editing phase, the student learns that grammatical and spelling errors can be fixed later and that words and sentences can be changed in order to improve the story. As he becomes accustomed to this process (usually after creating several Language Experience Stories), he will feel more at ease about editing his work and making suggestions for improvement.

The tutor asks the student to underline words that he wants to learn better (no more than 5) and makes flash cards for each underlined word. The purpose of this exercise is to engage the student in the reading process because these are his own words.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Click here to learn how to teach sight words from flash/index cards.

Video Eight: Transferring Reading Strategies

The tutor and student meet again for another lesson in the future. The tutor presents the student with a news clipping on a topic related to the student’s story. He then reads the story to the student and thinks out loud, demonstrating the reading strategies he uses while reading a new article. The goal of this exercise is to help the student identify what reading strategies he is using, how he uses them, and how they help him comprehend the text. It is also important for tutors to show their students that good readers use reading strategies when encountering a new or difficult text. By thinking out loud, the tutor will help to transfer these strategies to the student, who will begin to use them on his own.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Click here to read the Bio-Vam story the tutor reads in the video.

Also on this site:

In creating the videos, we would like to thank the following organizations:

Videos created by Interface Media Group.

Tutor and Student, and setting: Literacy Council of Northern Virginia


JWKing said...

I tried the Language Experience story in a class of high school students with intellectual disabilities that I teach. One student has a lot of difficulty reading and rarely reads aloud; but when he does, he has problems with every few words. He reads on a third grade level.

He dictated a story to me about mangos and I wrote it down. I did this with several students. They then typed the words from my print which is part of our classwork.

The surprising thing to me was today, after the material was "cold," I had the student read his story to me and he read it perfectly. I am really anxious to try more of this. After two years, I have not seen a lot of improvement in his reading ability, but I wonder if we do more of this if there will be improvement. Obviously, there is something to this procedure of reading words that are part of the student's own vocabulary. We will make sight word cards tomorrow and see if we experience improvement. The students all enjoyed this activity too.

Unknown said...

It was helpful to see this demonstrated in the videos, and I'm glad they were broken up into such small segments.

Ixesha lam eMzantsi Afrika said...

The videos were very helpful and informative. I am looking forward to trying this!

Gabriele russo said...

I have doubts about this one, but I will certainly try it.

Michael O said...

I learned how to properly mind map, and use a KWL chart through these videos. I plan on employing both techniques!

Unknown said...

This looks like a really interesting and effective technique. I do wonder if the last step, showing them an article we struggled with, should happen at the end of the strategy or moreso in the beginning.

Robert D said...

Very impressed with the simplified K-W-L technique. It just makes sense.

Glen Lea said...

The Learning Experience Approach looks like a fantastic way to to teach reading skills. I really like the idea of helping a learner write his own story. I also like the idea of follow up to expand the learner's knowledge of a subject in which s/he is interested.

Olivia Hester said...

I like how it's set in separate stages and categories, and I really like the idea of echo reading and reading their own stories. Because it's their own vocabulary, I think it would be easier for the student to read.

Unknown said...

The Learning Experience Approach seems to be a great way to get the learner to open their minds for additional learning. Using the K-W-L chart requires interviewing skills that I'm not sure I have. I would wonder if I was asking the right questions or enough questions to get information needed to complete the exercise. I would also be concerned that the exercise would become a boring chore instead of an interesting way to gather information and create a story. But I would be willing to try.

Unknown said...

I love the Language Experience Story approach since it supports the learner's personal interests. Echo reading is also a useful tool. It helps to reduce the intimidation factor if tutors read and think out loud so learners can become aware of the un-obvious processes.

Unknown said...

I appreciate that these lessons are separated into manageable sections. This would help eliminate the student becoming overwhelmed with too much information and this method allows the lessons to sink in.

Mme Brown said...

This looks good for one-on-one but not is a classroom situation.

Unknown said...

I think the Language Experience Approach is a good ice-breaker activity, since it takes the pressure off the student and is focused on the student's interests.

Unknown said...

A library might be a great place to hold sessions, because then you can also help a student learn how to 'follow up' on an interest -- which involves more reading, vocabulary, organizing thoughts, making connections, and understanding how often the first question just leads to more.

Natalie Esch said...

I see how useful conversation could be for grounding the student in context and allowing them to draw on their experience.

Unknown said...

I like the idea of the student creating their own story. This gives them something familiar to read and practice skills. I think the echo reading is especially helpful to build confidence with the student.

Unknown said...

The Language Experience Story does seem like an effective teaching strategy, but I am worried about how to approach the process organically in each individual tutoring session.

Ro said...

The Learning Experience Approach is a great way to engage an adult learner. Using a topic the learner chooses and a story she creates will put the learner at ease and help them to feel knowledgeable. The strategies explained throughout the approach are very helpful and break down the learning process for the student and tutor. Starting with the KWL chart helps to organize thinking and activate prior knowledge to make future connections for the student. Sight words and echo reading teach a student with less pressure yet still effective. I am confident I can use the Learning Experience Approach to tutor.

Anonymous said...

I found that different graphic organizers can be used for different components of the reading mechanisms trying to be taught. Also, the learning experience approach showed the view of the learner, so it is not just a matter of what you are teaching, but to who you are trying to convey the information too.