Skip to comments.Anyone Still Interested in Theories of Reading??
Posted on 03/02/2011 4:15:59 PM PST by BruceDeitrickPrice
A recent post about a new book by Denise Eide called Uncovering the Logic of English prompted more than 80 comments.
One person in particular objected that phonics was not the entire answer, and argued that Sight-Words were easy to learn, and that many people read this way. I dont think so.
So I am always trying to figure out CLEVER NEW WAYS to explain this mess to all the confused parents out there, and the confused teachers in the schools.
This new article points out quite simply that reading, as described and prescribed by the so-called experts in Whole Word, is an absurdly difficult task, not at all the easy, pleasurable activity that most of us call reading.
Real readers just settle into a book and read! Sight-Word "readers" spend all their time looking for clues and trying to figure out the mystery in front of their eyes.
The title of the article is: Clueless: Reading as Detective Work. It makes the case that Whole Word is quackery and the reason we have 50 million functional illiterates.
This is a somewhat specialized article, but its a good read for anyone involved with reading.
There are also three YouTube videos accompanying the article; these provide more context.
Does it involve a lot of reading?
No; fortunately it was done in the style of ancient cave-paintings so as to reach the illiterate masses.
Presumably there's a tremendous amount of data processing going on in our brains to check out the stuff in the middle ~ odds are it's a probability search rather like the one Google.com uses to look ahead to give you clues about where to look next.
I use a combination of WHOLE WORD and WORD SHAPE to rapidly whip through any amount of writing ~ from an address to a whole book.
My grandson is six years old. He went from not reading to reading EVERYTHING in a matter of weeks. He is learning phonetically, and doing wonders. He can read everything I have typed on this post, without help. Unfortunately, he can also read the graffiti in the walls, also.
I started Russian study about 18 years ago.
My first lessons were definitely phonics-based when it came to learning new words, and it still is.
Another person on this thread (I forget who) mentioned the MASSIVE amounts of signal and image processing our brains do on-the-fly.
It does seem that to LEARN to read, you need phonics, but that the brain trains itself to sight-read over time.
BUT, BUT, BUT, throw a new word at me in Russian, and it’s back to PHONICS-PHONICS-PHONICS............
I think the phonics method teaches people to recognize the sounds of letters, syllables and words. After that, we begin to memorize the whole words that we learned syllable by syllable.
But any explanation of how someone begins to learn starting with the whole word just sounds like nonsense, or some cumbersome memorization procedure.
Phonics is a pedagogical tool. Eventually, as people become experienced they learn to read by sight and can skip over the intermediary details. The question is whether it’s better, for a child who hasn’t learned yet, to jump straight to sight-reading or use phonics as a stepping stone.
I don’t really know the answer. I remember I was a late reader, and I was taught nothing but Phonics. It’s hard to remember exactly how old I was at the time, but I did have similar aged friends who were proficient readers. Yet I struggled and struggled, and got frustrated, and put up with the taunts from my big sis about being “stupid” (what else are siblings for?). Then I clearly remember one day it was like a light was turned on in my brain and from then on I had no trouble reading anything. Sometimes a child just needs to mature a little before they’re ready to start learning.
I have found that children are individuals, each having their own learning style and pace of learning. There is no one way, therefore, to teach reading to all children.
Many strategies should be tried, and if you find one that works, use it. If not, try something else.
Uhhhhhhhhh .... no.
My son, now a second year law student, learned the same way at about the same age.
The professional educators when he was in elementary education, were negative about the process but he too was the most effective reader in the advanced placement group.
Well, to rehash discussion on a thread a few months ago....
I’m convinced that there’s some percentage of people for whom phonics is an intermediary step that’s a waste of time. Perhaps there’s a far larger percentage of people for whom phonics is the best initial teaching method.
But I was reading before entering Kkindergarten, and I’ve never sounded out a word in my life; my sole instruction was being read to a lot.
I was reading at a 12th grade level by 3rd grade, scored a perfect 800 on the Verbal Section of the GRE, and I can read an average novel in a couple of hours.
At any age, phonics seems unimaginably tedious to me. But that’s just me.
Unfortunately the whole issue has been politicized; no one way of learning to read is right for anyone, as is true of pretty much any teaching method.
For the most part everybody is unaware that the MACULA (as it's called these days) has nerve tendrils going from the left side of the center of the eye to the right side of the visual center, and those from the right side of the center of the eye to the left side of the visual center.
There they match up with other tendrils from the other eye. As your eye traces through printed words it sees both the leftside of the word and the rightside of the word SIMULTANEOUSLY and the brain scans the other letters or hieroglyphic elements in between and matches them up with something meaningful in its vast warehouse of word parts lists.
This has to work with alphabets, syllabaries, pictoglyphs and hieroglyphs. There may well be other writing systems somewhere that this would accommodate.
Then there's the classic question ~ why is it an educated person knows how to read so many tens of thousands of words he's never heard? He certainly doesn't need the phonemes (syllables or character marks) in mind if he's never heard the word!
BTW, the theory discussed in the paper I referenced would also explain why Chinese have a gene that facilitates their accessing TONES separately from the words. When it comes to Chinese-like languages you need an additional sound pathway to pick up on the word you are dealing with ~ hearing the syllables just doesn't do the trick.
The Chinese also have a universally taught written language that has no "sound values" at all ~ it's strictly visual. Think about that a moment ~ spoken Chinese uses syllables and tones (spread across the width of the syllable) yet written Chinese is 100% look-see-think!
There are a few hundred thousand words in English. No adult knows them all. What does an adult do when he or she encounters a word they don't know? I bet they look at the letters and syllables, left to right. Then make a stab at the pronunciation, and look for any familiar root words that are part of the new word, etc., and then use a dictionary.
It would seem that everyone would be better off learning to look at the letters and syllables that make up a word, and learning to pronounce and discern the meaning of most new words to some extent, and then use a dictionary.
On another note, a friend of mine said that her first grade grandson is not being taught cursive writing in school. She said they are only teaching printing. If I recall correctly, we started learning cursive in 1st grade. This is in the NY State school system. I don't have any grandchildren, so can anyone tell me if it's like that in their schools too?
He might not need them to read the new word, but he needs them to learn to pronounce or speak the word. We pronounce words in a manner different from your description of how we read, or recognize a word by sight.
Then we need to learn the meaning, which we might discern from root words, etc, or we might need a dictionary.
I learned to read by sight and my active and passive vocabularies are far broader than that of my children which were taught phonics
It is my observation that most sight readers naturally incorporate some phonics as their reading skill matures.. also we tend to break words into known parts, being able not just to READ the word but know its definition ...and in the end learning the meaning is more important than the pronunciation
How ridiculous. Neither one of them could avoid what's called "writer's cramp" so that was always an automatic "-" grade.
It's probably the same now but we were well on our way to getting "typing" substituted for "writing" in the grading structure 20 years ago!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.