Dear Gaila - Text Comprehension Tips & Ideas

March 1, 2017

Dear Gaila,

My students have a rich enough vocabulary in English, yet with the English bagrut matriculations coming up I need to work with them on text comprehension. What tips can you give me?

Dedicated Teacher


Dear Dedicated Teacher,


Working with your students (or your children!) on text comprehension is an important skill to develop early on - not only in high school! I'll share with you ideas that can be used in late elementary years all the way through high school.


First of all, I'll clarify what I mean by text comprehension. Text comprehension requires a good working vocabulary (I'll share with you more ideas about that in another opportunity). However, the readers need to understand the concept and idea of the text as a whole and not only the individual words. There are two different levels for text comprehension:

The first level is a simplistic understanding of the main plot and ideas, the main characters and what happens to them. I want to encourage summarizing skills. In order to ensure that students follow the story line I ask questions - both orally and written. I use the standards wh- questions: who, when, where and how. 


The second level is a deeper level, where the questions lead the students to identify or delve into the deeper meanings of the text. For example, I might ask students why did the man go into the store? or even why do you think the man went into the store? or perhaps what would you feel if you saw a man run into your store? or why did the author choose to call the store by that name? These are interesting questions that encourage my students to see the overall plot idea and helps them understand the text. 


Good luck!



Gaila has almost 40 year of experience teaching and runs A.H.A.V.A., a non-profit to promote English literacy. Would you like to ask Gaila a question? Email us at or send us a message. Look out for more Dear Gaila columns



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