Psychology of Learning to Read

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1 Psychology of Learning to Read Learning Goals Explain the six skills necessary for learning how to read. Explain instructional strategies for each of the six skills. 1

2 Background Teachers play a very important role in helping children learn to read. When teachers use research-based principles of best practice to guide literacy instruction, then pupils become more proficient readers (Mazzoni& Gambrell, 2003). Learning to read is a complex task as children have to: Identify words Construct the meaning of a sentence or text Retain the information read in memory Reading Skills Readers consists of six foundational skills: Oral language: Ability to listen and speak Phonemic awareness: Ability to recognize and manipulate the sounds (phonemes) in spoken words Phonics: Correspondence between letters and sounds 2

3 Reading Skills, Continued Readers consists of six foundational skills: Fluency: Reading a text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression People must be able to read quickly and fluently before they can focus their attention on understanding the meaning of the text Vocabulary knowledge: Knowledge of the meaning of words Text cannot be understood unless a student understands the words in a text Comprehension strategies: Ability to understand what is read. Oral Language Oral language is the foundation of learning to read Oral language is improved by listening and speaking, which fosters vocabulary development, phonemic awareness, and grammar Best Practices for improving oral language Songs and rhymes Storytelling with a discussion of the story afterwards Circle time: Children sit in a circle and discuss issues such as the daily class schedule, current events, and events in the lives of the children Dramatic play: Children act out various imaginary scenes, such as eating at a Food Is Ready, visiting a friend, and playing house/school 3

4 Phonemic Awareness Phonemic Awareness is best taught by informal classroom discussions The discussions can be playful and proceed quickly What is the first/middle/last sound in the word rat? What word do you get when you combine the sounds /r/ -/a/ -/g/? What other words can you come up with that start with the same first sound in hat? Break this word into syllables: mango. Manipulating phonemes: If you take the word bat and remove the /b/ sound, what word do you get? If you take the word bat, remove the /b/ sound and add the /k/ sound, what word do you get? Rhyming activities What words rhyme with low? Phonics Systematic phonics instruction is most effective These are programs that are developed by literacy experts to help children relate sounds to letters, break spoken words into sounds, and blend sounds to form words Examples of topics in a systematic phonics program Letter sounds (not necessarily letter names) The 44 sounds and corresponding letters/letter groups Read words using sound blending Warning: Overemphasis on phonics instruction at the expense of other reading skills is likely to be ineffective No more than 15 minutes of phonics instruction per day is sufficient 4

5 Fluency Children develop fluency by: Guided oral reading: Children read a text out loud and get feedback by a parent/teacher about words that are read incorrectly Reading a text multiple times Vocabulary Knowledge Students learn from 4,000 to 6,000 new vocabulary words each year(anderson, 1996) It is impossible to directly teach this many vocabulary words in school Both direct and indirect vocabulary instruction is valuable, and multiple methods of vocabulary instruction is best Direct instruction: Define a word, use it in sentences Indirect instruction: Listening, speaking, reading, and writing in authentic situations 5

6 Comprehension Comprehension is at the heart of learning how to read. Just because a child can pronounce a word does not mean that the child understands what they read. Students need instruction in comprehension strategies to help them understand what they are reading. Instruction should be done when reading authentic texts Students also need to be engaged in discussion of text to help them clarify what they have read Comprehension instruction consists of a teacher demonstrating, modeling, and guiding students in acquisition of reading comprehension strategies Comprehension Examples of Comprehension Strategies (they are numerous) Re-read Summarize what has been read Make predictions Ask questions about a text Use graphic organizers Make connections between what is read and students experiences Teach these comprehension strategies as students are reading meaningful texts 6

7 Comprehension Comprehension instruction also consists of opportunities for teachers and students to discuss texts, including the following: Unfamiliar vocabulary words Theme of the story Difficult-to-understand plotlines Balanced Instruction Balanced Literacy Classroom: Provide meaningful instruction in each of the six literacy skills 7

8 Promoting Reading in Developing Countries Instruction by teacher-directed drills and skills are less beneficial in raising literacy levels than programs that try to capture students interest in reading and encourage them to read independently Systematic skill development should also focus on: Creating a desire to read in students Help them to enjoy a good story Help students develop habit of reading A key difference between developing and developed countries on literacy is in the amount of books available A literacy expert proposes that developing countries could improve literacy by supplying large quantities of enjoyable library books to schools (Book Floods) and developing programs that encourage students to read books more often and enjoy them. 8

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