Language Experience


This is a technique to use with beginning readers who may not yet be able to read a short text – too many unknown words, too frustrating. The purpose of it is to give the reader lots of opportunity to see the words and to fix them in his visual memory.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Together, think of a topic that’s familiar to your student and of high interest to him (a recent trip, a member of the family, a hobby).
  2. Get him to dictate a paragraph or so. You write exactly what he says. Don’t tidy up the grammar – the language patterns should be very familiar to the student. Use standard spelling, however (e.g. you instead of youse; Alzheimer’s instead of Oldtimer’s). Write it in large, clear script. Example.
  3. Now read it together in chorus, with you pointing to each word as you say it.
  4. Read it a few more times, and each time, fall silent in places where you know he can read independently.
  5. Finally, he reads alone.
  6. “But I’m just saying it from memory”, he protests. “But each time you read a word I’m pointing to it and that helps you to memorize it”, you reply. “That’s an important step in reading.”
  7. After you’ve read and re-read the passage there are numerous ways you can use the Language Experience story.

Language Experience – Follow-up Activities

  • Student copies by hand.
  • Student keys into computer.
  • You blank out certain words and he fills them in.
  • He underlines all words beginning with capital letters and you discuss rules for capitalization.
  • You pick out certain words and he forms new sentences with them.
  • He picks out all words with “th” in them and you do a mini-phonics lesson.
  • . . . and so on and so forth. There are uncountable ways to use the story and I’m sure you’ll think of many yourself. Look for books in the resource library about Language Experience.


Language Experience helps the reader to add sight words to the visual memory bank. Obviously, the most useful words to recognize are the most common. Here is a link to the Most Common Words in Written English.


Session 3 Index