Deepening Students’ Comprehension of Authentic Resources: Supports and Scaffolds


This is my second post on the topic of deepening students’ comprehension of authentic resources.  The previous post focused on visual strategies.  This post will highlight supports and scaffolds that assist students in comprehending authentic text.

Graphic organizers

Interpreting authentic text can feel very daunting, especially to our reluctant and struggling language learners.  Having scaffolds and supports to help students focus and organize their thinking can make a big difference in student confidence in and perseverance through tasks.

A graphic organizer that is labeled with specific categories gives students “buckets” for the ideas they glean from the text.  Am I looking for opinions, reasons, and examples the author is giving?  Am I interpreting a description of a person and categorizing my notes into physical and personality traits?  A well-labeled graphic organizer can be just the support some learners need in lieu of being a given a blank sheet of paper on which to collect “notes.”

For example, in a French class while reading a children’s storybook in the target language, the teacher gives students a graphic organizer set up as a story map.  The story map helps students know what they are reading/listening for in the text.


Here’s an example of a story map organizer for Spanish:


Here’s an example of a graphic organizer in Spanish from Really Good Stuff where students write the main idea and details from an authentic text.  Click on the image below to access a PDF of multiple graphic organizers in Spanish.

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For similar tools, visit this Pinterest page:

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Anchor Charts

Another example of a scaffold or support is anchor charts.  Anchor charts give students a framework to think about a text and its structure.  They are visual and often are created by the teacher in real time with the students where student input is added to the chart.

Here’s an example of an anchor chart about how to make connections with a text-

  • text to self
  • text to text
  • text to the world

It gives students sample sentence frames they can use to make those connections with the text.  The anchor chart remains visible in the classroom as a support to which students may refer to in the future.


Here’s an example of an anchor chart in French reminding readers about the types of details for which they are reading or listening while interpreting an authentic text.

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Below is an anchor chart in Chinese that gives students guidance on how to express their opinion about a text they have read/listened to called “OREO Opinion Writing.”  This is an example of a structure that students likely have learned in their English/Language Arts class and is easily tranferable to the language classroom.


For more examples of anchor charts, here’s a link to my Pinterest board:

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Productive group work

A very powerful way to support language learners in deepening their comprehension of authentic text is to provide them with opportunities to work in pairs or in a small group. Having a partner or group members to check and verify their thinking can be a great way to build language learners’ confidence level in their ability to interpret authentic text.

Some of the advantages of productive group work from the Center for Innovation and Research in Teaching (CIRT) include:

  1. Students able to take ownership of the subject matter.
  2. Students develop communication and teamwork skills.
  3. Content is reinforced as students work together and “teach” each other.
  4. Content may be broken down into parts.  This allows students to tackle larger and more complex problems and assignments than they would be able to do individually.
  5. Students can work together to pool their expertise, knowledge and skills.

Collaboratively tackling a challenging task that involves interpreting authentic text is a bridge to language learner independence in the interpretive mode.

Some of the best routines or processes to use during productive group work time is cooperative learning structures like Jigsaw, Numbered Heads Together, and Round Table.  Visual directions on how the various cooperative learning strategies work can be found online to ensure that the teaching of the routine can be done in the target language.  Here’s an example of visual directions for the Kagan structure called “Rally Coach”:


For more ideas for productive group work, go to the Flexible Grouping page on my website:

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or visit my Pinterest board on the same topic:


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“Scaffold” by erix! is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

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