ELL/ESL Aids: Microsoft Word’s Immersive Reader


If you’re like most people, you are familiar with Microsoft Word. But what you may not know is that its Immersive Reader function offers features helpful to struggling readers and ELL students. This is particularly true for Word Online, which is available for free for users with email accounts. Immersive Reader can also be found in Microsoft OneNote, Team, and FlipGrid.

The Immersive Reader features help everyone on any device improve their reading skills, including those with dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, emerging readers or a combination of the broad range of unique student abilities.

Even with older versions of Word, such as Microsoft Word 2016 and Word 365, you can select View > Immersive Reader or View > Learning Tools to access a modified reader view which helps struggling readers, such as:

  • Spacing—Allows users to change column width as well as the spacing between characters and lines. This is helpful for users who suffer from visual crowding issues.
  • Page Color—Provides the ability to change the text and background color, such as black text on a tan background or white text on a black background.
  • Read Aloud—Reads text aloud with simultaneous highlighting that improves decoding, fluency and comprehension while sustaining the reader’s focus and attention.
  • Line Highlighting—Highlights one to three lines at a time, which can be used in conjunction with the read-aloud feature.
  • Syllables—Shows the breaks between syllables to enhance word recognition and decoding.

Word Online, which is free to users with email accounts, and other newer Microsoft products such as OneNote, Team, and FlipGrid, offer additional features, including:

  • Parts of Speech —Through highlighting and labels, identifies nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
  • Picture Dictionary—Shows graphic depictions of selected nouns, verbs, and even prepositions.
  • Translate—Translates selected words or entire documents into one of 60 offered languages, from Afrikaans to Welsh. Translated words and documents can be read aloud in the selected language.

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