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Sensible approach to literacy teaching

Discussion in 'Primary' started by mashabell, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Lead commenter

    Not a word I'd advise giving to a reception class child ...
     
  2. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    No worse than a worksheet where the child has to fill in the missing letter first letter for words ending - uck.
     
  3. This is well established in all alphabetic languages other than English.

    I do not believe that even in countries with completely regular orthographies, people retrieve meaning by serially decoding every grapheme into a unit of sound. I believe that even in such countiries, sight vocabulary is the basis of reading fluency.,
    I suceeded in learning the Cyrillic alphabet in one afternoon and theeafter I could 'read' Russian if by 'reading' you mean vocalising text - naturally I could not really read Russian because I could not understand what I was vocalising although a Russian person listening to me could understand what I was saying.
    It all comes down to how we define the term 'reading' Because we are a 'profession' that does not feel it necessary to have formal professional definitions, discussions like this are never productive because we all define 'reading' idiosyncratically to suit our own purposes and are effectively all talking about different things. Many people including some on this forum, eegard decoding and reading to be one and the same thing.
    Imagine the chaos that would descend on the medical,legal and engineering professions if each practiioner were permitted to defined technical terms idiosyncratically! Well - that's precisely the kind of chaoe that exists in our profession and the cost of this chaoes in borne in the first instance, by the 100,000 who leave school every year unnecessarily. Ultimately of course, the whole of society bears the cost for our lack of professionalism.
    Personally, I define 'reading' as the procees of retrieving meaning from text. Furthermore I perceive this as necessarily being a silent, receptive, antisocial activity and the word 'reading' in grammatical terms to be transitive. Anything else to me, is not reading.
    Speed readers who 'skim' paragraphs and supress sub-vocalisation make a nonsense ot the claim taht all 'reading' invovles the serial decoding of every grapheme in every word no ,matter hwo often that word has been encounted and that individual words are never committed to memory as discrete visual entities. The existence of languages such as Chines which only have 'words' makes a nonsense of the claim that it is not possible to retrieve meaning from whole textwords without a grapheme to phoneme decodeing component.

     
  4. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Nor to Trevor McDonald, responsible for the most entertaining spoonerism of all time, during an article about the Kent countryside on the News At Ten once.
     
  5. We can really only compare the process of learning to speak with the process of learning to read when we define our terms. You may be regarding learning to speak as learning to make sounds, which does seem to be a good analogy for learning to decode in reading, ie make sounds for graphemes. However, speaking does not become communication until a person can say words, and reading does not become communication until a person can decode efficiently enough to read complete words for meaning. Beyond the ability to articulate sounds comes the ability to summon up just the right succession of sounds in a purposeful way. Beyond the ability to make sounds for graphemes comes the ability to recognise the words the sounds build into and discern its meaning. I cannot imagine any adult reader consciously 'parsing' the familiar words they are reading, it's a nonsense. It may be that they somehow unconsciously parse them, (who can know if it is unconscious?), but it doesn't in any way describe my experience of reading, where I look at a word and know it instantaneously. I'm reading a book at the moment set in Asia, with a lot of unpronounceable names. The fact that I read these names without pronouncing them internally tells me that I am not parsing them but that I do recognise and know them, I know which character is referred to each time and don't bother to work out the pronunciation each time. If I find myself needing to say one of the names I look at my internal picture of it so that I can say it. Would you say I am not reading? Well, maybe I'm being a bit lazy, but it doesn't stop me from understanding the text. What would make my understanding of the text problematic is if I had to sound out each word. I can guarantee that I would then have to go back over the words I had sounded out to read them as complete units and get the meaning. My attention would be divided, making getting the meaning more difficult.Maybe the studies you quote are more concerned with the initial stages of learning to read, when making sounds for graphemes, and learning to blend them dominates the process. This is part of learning to read, just as making sounds is part of learning to talk. They are both initial parts of a longer process which are abandoned (consciously) as the process proceeds, much in the way that a learner driver no longer thinks about what to do with their foot in order to operate the clutch after a few initial lessons. Getting stuck at that initial stage of learning is bad news if you really want to master the skill.
     
  6. By the way, 'parse' is not an accurate word for segmenting written words, and the use of it does not inspire confidence in Scientific American.
     
  7. What if two names differed by one letter, or had all the same letters but two were transposed? Would you be able to differentiate between them?

     
  8. Well, perhaps initially there might be some confusion, which would almost certainly be revealed and resolved by the context, and then my brain would tell me to beware!Some of the names are very similar, but recognising which character is which has not been a problem from that point of view. A greater difficulty has been in recalling which family each character belongs to, and linking their various names where there are nicknames, formal names, terms of endearment etc. :)
     
  9. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Sorry thumbie but I'm not regarding anything ... perhaps you misunderstood the research was carried out by scientists from Harvard and it is their conclusion not mine ...

     
  10. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I assume you don't have a background in linguistics or studied speech acquisitions
     
  11. Sorry, if I misunderstood. But don't people usually agree with stuff they quote to support their arguments?
     
  12. No. No doubt your expertise in linguistics is supplying you with a counter argument. It would be interesting to know what that is.
     
  13. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    perhaps you do [​IMG]but I'm quite happy to throw all ideas into a discussion whether I agree or disagree .
     
  14. Yes, I try to be consistent and not too slippery ;-)
    Do you mean you did not agree with the view of reading you were putting forward?
     
  15. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    It's nice to provide a balanced view [​IMG]

     
  16. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    always happy to offer guidance
     

  17. Perhaps you had better explain exactly what you think my 'viewpoint' is.
    As far as I am concerned, the research supports my suggestion that decoding takes place rapidly, automatically and unconsciously during silent reading as performed by a skilled reader.
    I'm afraid that you are a total failure at getting over what you are trying to say because I don't see how the isolated sentence you have quoted has anything at all to do with your repeated assertions that skilled readers don't consciously sound out every phoneme (which wasn't ever the point being discussed until you started harping on about it). If you think that the inclusion of the magic word 'word' somehow proves your mysterious point just consider that the sentence also contains the word 'phonemes' and that it is the phonological coding of the phonemes which produces the word.

     
  18. I think you need to re-read the article, and note the detail of the approaches it describes as 'direct access' and 'phonological coding', in order to understand the difference between your description of the reading process and the process described by the research.
     
  19. 'your repeated assertions that skilled readers don't consciously sound out every phoneme (which wasn't ever the point being discussed until you started harping on about it'
    I think it was me who harps on that reading does not involve serial decoding of every grapheme into phoneme even of very familiar words - it is certainly what I believe now and have always believed. I think anyone who has completed a speed reading course could claim to be a competent reader yet there is no way that serial decoding can happen in speed reading - none whatsoever.
     

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