Though I, and all ELL teachers, have been modifying the appearance of texts for years to make them more accessible, I didn’t learn the phrase “text engineering” until I read a piece by Elsa Billings and Aída Walqui at West Ed (see first link on this list).
Generally, it means not changing the words in a complex text (see The Best Places To Get The “Same” Text Written For Different “Levels”), but changing how it looks and adding scaffolds so that ELLs have a better chance of understanding what is there.
Here are some good resources on it (you might also be interested in The Best Resources On Providing Scaffolds To Students):
Topic Brief 3: De-Mystifying Complex Texts: What are “Complex” Texts and How Can We Ensure ELLs and MLs Can Access Them? is by Elsa Billings and Aída Walqui at West Ed.
VERY GOOD VIDEO ON “TEXT ENGINEERING” TO MAKE IT MORE ACCESSIBLE TO ELLS & EVERYBODY ELSE
Transforming the Resources You Have into Accessible Formats for All Students is an excellent post by Carmen Nguyen.
Helping English Learners Access Complex Texts Remotely is from Fish Tank Learning.
When a text is too challenging, I use text engineering to scaffold reading. @HWDSB pic.twitter.com/fJNcLXuA6n
— Tan K Huynh (he/his) 🇱🇦🇺🇸🇹🇭🏳️🌈 (@TanKHuynh) May 8, 2021
😍Do you 💕a good BEFORE & AFTER, too? Check out this 10-MINUTE makeover by @irina_mcgrath & me. It’s amazing how titles, images, vocab, chunking, & audio can make a text MUCH more comprehensible #MLLs. #ELL2point0 #ESL #JCPSDigIn
Tutorial & template 🔗 https://t.co/FbVC53VDB9 pic.twitter.com/Xl2TePUWEN
— Michelle Makus Shory (@michelleshory) February 15, 2022
What makes writing more readable? is a really interesting interactive from The Pudding. It illustrates – graphically – how to write in a more accessible way.
Look at how scaffolded this text is! This is text engineering at it’s best!
Dr. @katietoppel, you are magical! https://t.co/38WHGteRER
— Tan K Huynh (he/his) 🇱🇦🇺🇸🇹🇭🏳️🌈 (@TanKHuynh) March 7, 2022
Engineered texts for after spring break focused on fossils. My goal in small groups is reading, learning connected vocabulary, and retelling how paleontologists find fossils. Ss will read to understand, then sequence a deconstructed text, then write about the process. pic.twitter.com/5iS9wvP7jp
— Dr. Katie Toppel (she/her) (@KatieToppel) March 18, 2022
This is text engineering:
Thanks, @MrsGill_ https://t.co/4Bu94qwpF1
— Tan K Huynh (he/his) 🇱🇦🇺🇸🏳️🌈 (@TanKHuynh) March 8, 2023