If you are reading a text in class, with a mix of EAL students and native speaking students, a good way to start is to use a word cloud with all the key vocabulary in from the text.
I give the students a copy of the word cloud and ask them to highlight or underline any of the words they are not sure about. I walk around the classroom noting down the words students highlight, rather than picking on students to tell me what they have highlighted.
Once the students have finished this task, I write them up on the board and ask the class what the words mean. Students appear more positive and it's a good way to gage if students who think they know the words, really do.
After the students are comfortable with the vocabulary I ask them to look at the word cloud again and try to verbally predict the story with their partner. Students then feedback ideas and we begin to read to see if the students were right with their predictions.
Above is an example of a word cloud I found on the internet using the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but you can create your own using www.wordle.net