Creating a Language Experience Story

Before Reading


Keeping in mind your student's reading goals, talk with her about a topic of interest to her - anything fascinating that happened at work, what she did with her family over the weekend, how she feels about the public transportation system, etc. Discuss the topic; then decide on a title for the story.


Record the spoken words exactly, grammatical mistakes and all. This is her story, not yours. Print clearly or type the story on computer and double space, leaving enough room between sentences to work on vocabulary words. Punctuate accurately. Make a copy for yourself and for your student. Place all LEAs in a portfolio or folder.

Give your student the option to write her own story. Tell her not to worry about grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, etc. You will work together on correcting those later. Corrections are discussed more in depth in Unit 3: Teaching Writing to Adults.

Here's a sample Language Experience Story

Notice that while the story is spelled correctly, it is grammatically incorrect in several instances. This is permissible, as the words are written exactly as the student dictated them. With time, as your student progresses through her lessons and gains confidence, she will be ready for grammar instruction. Often your student might notice the grammar mistake and ask you to fix it. However, in the beginning of your association with your student, concentrate on reading the story, not on the grammar. The idea is to get her to start reading with fluency and expression, using her own words.

During Reading

Read the story

Depending on your student's comfort level, you may choose to read the story with your student, have her read it with you, or choose any of the techniques described in Instructional Practices for Teaching Fluency. With these instructional techniques, you will help her to read her language experience story, and any other text, with fluency and understanding.

Tip: Good tutors think about their own reading strategies and talk to their students about them. Your student will have no idea what reading strategies you are using, unless you identify them for her and describe them. You might choose a reading passage at the start of every lesson. As you read, talk about the strategies you are using such as context clues or sounding out an unfamiliar word. By modeling this behavior, you will encourage your student to talk or think about her own reading strategies as she uses them.

After Reading

  • Ask your student to reread the story, working on reading with expression, reading in word chunks, or improving fluency.
  • Choose five or six words for your student to learn as sight words. Follow the directions for teaching sight words.
  • Choose one of the sight words and practice teaching word families.
  • Teach the beginning sound of each word.
  • Identify the number of syllables in each word.

What if you have more than one student?

  • If you have two students who are at a similar level, have both dictate a short LEA.

  • If one is more advanced than the other, you might want to have the more advanced student write down the LEA that the more basic student dictates.

  • In a larger classroom setting, think about pairing up students and have them taking turns dictating an LEA, and then writing down their partner's LEA.

This link leads you to eight videos that demonstrate how a Language Experience Story is made, using the before-during-after strategies. The lesson also demonstrates simple reading activities you can practice with your student.

To return to Unit 2: Teaching Reading to Adults. Scroll down to Unit 10.

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