10. Putting it All Together: A Sample Series of Lessons Using the Language Experience Approach

The Language Experience Approach (LEA)
In this reading technique, your student dictates the language experience story. This approach works equally well with beginner, intermediate, and advanced students because you are using the student's own words and a story she already knows. Just remember to keep the story short and simple at first. The idea is to help your student to relax with speaking, listening, and reading.

Because your student is telling the story, she is already familiar with the vocabulary. By using her own words and a topic she knows well, you are building on what she already knows. This technique will build up confidence in her abilities to read, thereby motivating her to continue learning.



Required Assignment


Click here to learn how to create a language experience story through a series of videos. 

These include before, during, and after activities. Estimated time to complete the videos and reading: 15 minutes.

Now go to "comments" and discuss how comfortable you feel using the Language Experience Approach. Read what others have to say.

Optional practice:
Then Pair up with a spouse, friend, or child, and practice creating a language experience story. Choose a before, during, or after activity to practice.
Read more about Language Experience Stories in the following resources. (Choose one.)

Optional Reading:



  • Tutor, pages 47-52

  • LitStart, pages 100 - 111

  • Online


  • Optional Videos:

    1. Watch a tutor teach alphabetics to a student

    Basic Reading and Writing Techniques: Part 1, Alphabet Study (9:34 min) These alphabet study techniques are especially suitable for basic learners. It includes a review of the previous lesson, new words and rhyming words, writing the words, and find sounds in an experience story.



  • 2. Watch a tutor teach word study to a student

    Basic Reading and Writing Techniques: Part 2, Word Study (9:45 min) In this video the tutor transitions from alphabet study to word study using an experience story. The student reads the story silently, then discusses unknown words. He then reads the story out loud, adds to the story, and practices spell tracing.


    3. Watch a tutor teach reading and writing techniques using a map

    Basic Reading and Writing Techniques: Part 3, Reading a Map (5:54 min) The tutor uses an atlas and a map to prepare the learner for his upcoming vacation. They practice writing place names and reading directions.

    62 comments:

    June said...

    I like the idea of the learner sriting his orher own story and then reading it. It seems to me that this approach personalizes the task.

    Queen Of My Castle said...

    I like the personalization effect of this learning style. I do wonder if so often the person speaks at a much high level than he could read and spell.

    Alicia

    tutorgirl said...

    I love the LEA approach. It is a springboard to so many reading activities. I would think it would be a valuable tool for all tutors.

    Joanna said...

    I think that the LES style is a great way to get students started. It would seem to me that their familiarity with ther stories would help them develop familiarity with the written word, and help them feel more confident with re-reading the passage.

    Biltz said...

    It seems that the LEA approach might be a great tool for a first meeting. I will plan to discuss this with my coach.

    BOC said...

    I hope that the LEA experience is something my students will enjoy. Hopefully, they will feel more at ease reading something they have created.

    Pat said...

    Great way to get a student started. Helps for them to be comfortable from the begining

    Dear Tutor, said...

    I love using the LEA approach when my student's mind is distracted regarding a personal matter. Since he can't concentrate on the lesson, we use this format to deal with the issue while still learning literacy skills.

    Jenny said...

    I practiced this with a friend and she had trouble coming up with an experience she wanted to dictate to me. I would expect to have that same difficulty with my adult learners.

    Gerri said...

    I would use LEA. I, like most people commenting here, think it is a great tool for students. Seems like they would really enjoy it.

    kjlinc said...

    I think a LEA would be very useful and a good tool, but it seems sort of uncomfortable to get the learner to read their story aloud or try to learn from their story. I feel that other materials could be better tools for teaching reading.

    Denise said...

    I felt very comfortable using the Language Experience Approach. I love to hear and tell personal stories. I feel by using this approach, it would allow my learner to open up and feel more comfortable with me.

    Tracey said...

    This appears to be a great approach to taking the spoken word and the learners life experiences and turning them into printed words they can learn to read and write.

    Kristin said...

    Everyone enjoys talking about themselves - it's just human nature so I think the LEA approach will be a successful technique and I plan on using it right away with my student.

    Lia Keston said...

    This seems like a great way to break the ice, make both of you more comfortable, and begin to get to know your learner. The videos were helpful as well for watching the technique in action.

    Anne said...

    This sounds like a great method for students to practice reading when they already know the topic and plot of the story, instead of trying to figure it out as they go. It sounds much more personal for them than reading a book.

    Mutahara said...

    I like the LEA approach because it makes the students open up and discuss something they can relate to. It is also a way for the tutors to learn more about the students without making it too obvious.

    Marian said...

    Every job needs a little fun, and this sounds like IT. I look forward to learning about my learner with the LEA.

    Marian said...

    I went back and viewed the optional videos today. The ones on teaching alphabetics, etc, gave me a good feel for the patience that teaching reading will require. A hint - I discovered that if you exit the training and restart it between each viddo, the videos play through without slowing down for downloading.

    IJM said...

    I really like this approach, since it connects literacy to the learner's everyday life. Seems like it could be a great warm-up to the session, because it doesn't put them on the spot to be creative, and reinforces words they're likely to use on a more day-to-day basis. Also, they're going through the content at least twice, auditorily and then visually; hopefully this is good positive reinforcement.

    Kareemah said...

    I tried the LEA with a nine-year old child, whose vocabulary and reading and writing skills are normal if not above average. Still, it was a useful experience. She dictated the letter. After reading it a couple of times, I asked her some questions about some of her sentences in order to clarify their meaning. When she answered, she found she needed to identify something with a word that was unfamiliar to her. I supplied her with the descriptive word and asked if she had heard it before. She felt it was familiar, but was not familiar enough to choose it. In another instance, she added words from her known vocabulary to clarify her meaning. It does seem interesting that one does not always reach into one’s vocabulary unless one spends more time thinking about what one wants to say. We spent some time creating a title. She came up with three. This pointed to her comprehension. Over all, she was quite pleased with her story. It was easy to use, useful for her and allowed many aspects of reading to be covered: looking at one’s own thoughts, organizing them and articulating them; spelling, vocabulary; and comprehension. I am sure there are more.

    Ms. Educator said...

    I like the language experience approach. It offers the learner some comfort in all of the other uncomfortable areas that they will be dealing with. It also gives the tutor the ability to become familiar with the learner and their vocabulary level.

    Olivia said...

    I feel pretty comfortable with the idea of encouraging a learner to write and read his or her own story (although it's going to take a lot of self-control not to get nit-picky about things like grammar and spelling!) Still, it seems like an empowering approach, and one that will be interesting for me as well; having the learner tell me about him- or herself without having to ask personal questions directly may result in sharing information I otherwise wouldn't have learned.

    karenzpt said...

    I think the LEA approach would be very meaningful to most students since it helps to describe a life experience and gives more meaning to the reading activity.

    JeremyK said...

    I, for one, feel perfectly comfortable using the Language Experience Story technique. In fact, I think it might even help to "break the ice" between me and a new student. Finding out the things they care about and interesting details about their lives that would come out in LES composition is a great way to see your students as complex, multi-faceted human beings rather than just people in need of remedial linguistic education. I am definitely planning to make LES composition a part of my curriculum.

    rsvmi52 said...

    I like this LEA approach allowing the student to uses their own experience and also the creativity with the Wordless Book activity.

    neg said...

    The LEA approach reminds me of my son in 1st grade. Although he could not read yet the teacher had him write Week End News. The spelling and grammar were atrocious but the concept the same. Good thing I wrote translations then because now what he wrote is gibberish.

    sefutrell said...

    The LEA approach allows the learner to personalize their reading experience. The information they are reading becomes relevant, interesting, and important to them, because they dictated it themselves.

    jujubean101 said...

    It was fun and easy to do this with my husband. Hopefully a student would have as much fun as he did.

    Danielle said...

    I really like this approach cause I like the talking involved. I remember when used this in the classroom after taking some kids to a zoo. I asked the students to pay attention to the different kinds of animals they saw, I took pictures and showed them in a powerpoint, and jotted down on a large piece of paper the animals they saw. We then transferee this to a story which they copied into their journals.

    Danielle said...

    When I did this approach with a friend, they had already knew most of the words they dictated for me. I think this approach is a great start but needs another for vocab development.

    SNelson said...

    The learning approach is a gem.

    Martha said...

    I think the Language Experience Approach will prove to be a very effective tool for engaging students' interest while also building an emotional bond between student and tutor.

    Megan N said...

    I like the idea of the learner writing their own story and then reading it, then they will be able to comprehend what they are saying. I also like the idea of asking the learner 5 words they want to know more about, then next time putting them on flash cards.

    Kenneth Zen Bodhi said...

    Though I have not used the Language Experience Approach before, I think its a great approach and one that I will have no difficulty using again.

    lizbeth rakaczky said...

    This approach to learning is interactive and fun. By having the tutor be the writer, the learner is able to focus on organizing thoughts without becoming frustrated with trying to get thoughts on paper fast enough. Having the learner do research on a topic that interests them adds to the excitement of learning.

    Teiji Epling said...

    It seems like the LEA approach will be an excellent way in which to teach students. The learner would already be familiar with the vocabulary and situation, and would have a firm grasp on the context rather than just being thrown into some impersonal story. I would think feeling confident is an important issue in an adult learner's literacy experience, and this method would certainly be a solid contributor toward achieving that goal.

    Josh Lipovetsky said...

    I really enjoyed learning about the Language Experience Approach. It looks great in theory, and I have heard that it's just a great in practice! I absolutely love the fact that it's learner-centered.

    I put myself in the learner's shoes, and I realize that I would enjoy learning from this method very much!

    Genevieve McCall said...

    The LEA approach seems like it would be a great fit for all types of learners. I'd definitely like to try it out once I begin tutoring. In my experience, any time learning a subject can be personalized it makes it easier to understand and more engaging.

    Genevieve McCall said...

    Also, videos 3,4,5, and 6 were not working, and the transcript returned a "not valid url" page.

    Rosa Solano said...

    I found these videos very helpful in helping a student create his own story and then have them read their creation. It is beneficial since the student will be familiar with the content when he or she tries to read it.

    domthom92090 said...

    I think this is a great hands-on tool for tutoring. So many people can tell a story but is disconnected with actually writing it down and being able to read it, even after they've wrote it. By it being their own personal story using the words they use, it can help them identify exactly what the words mean and how they are spelled. You can apply so many strategies when doing this exercise.

    Tiffany H. said...

    I really like the LEA method because it connects literacy to the student's everyday life.

    Cambria said...

    I am going to try this approach with my ESL students. That way they can see the words they use spelled correctly and hopefully expand on their vocabulary if they change some words.

    Jennifer Smith said...

    In order for a student to be engaged in reading, the teacher must make the activity interesting and fun. I can definitely see how LEA is a great way to teach adults or children how to read. It gives the student an invested interest in learning.

    Cynthia Kuest said...

    I like how the tutor had the learner write something that was important to him, then she had him practice reading it and writing about it. This would make the writing meaningful to the person. I also noticed how the instructor supported the student enough so he could sound out the words and write them but she didn't do the speaking or writing herself. That way the student learns more readily. She went at a good pace for this student.

    Allison Smith said...

    I think allowing the reader to gain fluency in his or her own voice is a great idea. I think that poor readers often do not realize how intelligent they really are. They have many important and interesting things to say.

    mayjason84 said...

    After watching the videos on the LEA I feel that it is a great way to teach adult readers fluency, vocabulary, punctuation, and reading comprehension. I also feel that it will be fun as well as educational so the adult reader will stay focused as they learn. Finally, It sets the foundation for a rapport to begin between tutor and student.

    Wallace West said...

    For adult learners this is great because they feel they have control and your are more so a guide because it's about them.

    Jessie said...

    After reading about and watching the videos on LEA, I feel that this is a great way for learners to take ownership of their learning experience. By using a story that they came up with, they are already familiar with the facts of the story and they can gain a deeper understanding of sentence structure, punctuation, etc. This seems like it will be a useful tool to help learners become more comfortable with their tutor too.

    Regina Cook said...

    LEA is amazing! This approach is a productive method for teaching many subjects.

    Pamela Lee said...

    I can see this being effective; however, I don't know that I feel comfortable preparing a Mind Map. I will have to practice. It is similar to preparing an outline - just in a different format.

    MSTATEN said...

    Great examples. Not only does it teach the student to take their time but the tutor as well. In order to make sure the learner is truly receiving and understanding the information given.

    Maria Olaya said...

    I really enjoyed the videos because it showed the students works with assistance and eventually gave the student the confidence to read his own work.

    Missuz Jonez said...

    Love this. A Language Experience Story is perfect for tutoring. Not only is it an assignment that utilizes all four key elements of reading instruction, but engages all the elements that help make a good reader. The part I like the most about this lesson plan is that it helps facilitate the personal connection a tutor is trying to create with their student.

    Andrea McSweeney said...

    The Language Experience Story is awesome. It's a great way to engage the learner in a topic they are interested in- great videos that walked you easily through the steps.

    Joe said...

    I would like to review it again to get more comfortable, and practice.

    Kathy Tieu said...

    The Language Experience Approach is an amazing way to teach students. It helps them really connect with you and their readings by identifying their interests, making goals, and in the end, their reading comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, and relationship with you is improved.

    Mama Tee Tee said...

    I have used this technique in working with my child, autistic and TBI, it has always proven to increase his comfort and confidence with the written language. He has made great strides in his reading and phonetic awareness.

    Mama Tee Tee said...

    I have used this technique in working with my child, autistic and TBI, it has always proven to increase his comfort and confidence with the written language. He has made great strides in his reading and phonetic awareness.

    Sarah said...

    The videos were useful in presenting the technique. I would feel comfortable giving it a shot, but am sure it will take practice to adjust to doing this in a deliberate way, since I'm not used to explaining my thought processes while reading/learning.

    Aaron Maldonado said...

    I enjoy the video because it showed me how to assist the student when they have difficulties with certain words.