need to read
Tuesday 26th May 2020
Reading is complex
Fluent execution and
coordination of word
recognition and text
The Many Strands that are Woven into Skilled Reading
(syllables, phonemes, etc.)
(alphabetic principle, spelling-
(of familiar words)
(facts, concepts, etc.)
(Breadth, precision, links, etc.)
(syntax, semantics, etc.)
(inference, metaphor, etc.)
(print, concepts, genres etc.)
There is no correlation between ‘word
recognition’ skills and intelligence
If there was, we would need to find evidence of the following
1. that the pattern of information-processing skills that underlie the
reading deficits of low-IQ poor readers is different from the
information-processing skills that underlie the reading deficits of
high-IQ poor readers
2. that the neuroanatomical differences that underlie the cognitive
deficits of these two groups are different
3. that low- and high-IQ poor readers require different treatments to
remediate their reading problems
4. that there is differential etiology in the two groups based on
different heritability of the component deficits.
Stanovich (2005): “there is a wealth of evidence regarding [these propositions]
that is largely negative”.
So, what does cause reading
• Glue ear?
– “It’s estimated that one in five children around the age
of two will be affected by glue ear at any given time,
and about 8 in every 10 children will have had glue
ear at least once by the time they’re 10 years old.”
• Visual problems?
– Maybe 1 in 5 children with undiagnosed visual issues
• English orthography?
Seymour, Aro & Erskine (2003)
What’s going wrong?
Errors in word reading at
the end of first year of
All languages are not equal
7 years 8 years 9 years
Goswami et al 1998
• At the age of 9 a French child does not read
as well as a 7 year old Spanish child.
• It takes 2 additional years of schooling for an
English child to reach the level of a French
Evolution of error rates in pseudo word reading
The importance of fluency
They gradually ascended for half a mile
then found themselves at the top of a
considerable eminence where the
wood ceased theand eye was instantly
caught by Pemberley House situated on
the opposite side of the valley , into
which the road with some abruptness
Is comprehension possible?
1. What did they climb?
2. Where did the characters find
3. At what point did they first see Pemberley
4. Where was the house in relation to the
5. How did the author describe the road?
Comprehension depends on reading
They gradually ascended for
half a mile then found
themselves at the top of a
where the wood ceased and
the eye was instantly caught
by Pemberley House situated
on the opposite side of the
valley, into which the road
with some abruptness
1. What did they climb?
2. Where did the
3. At what point did they
first see Pemberley
4. Where was the house
in relation to the
5. How did the author
describe the road?
Into the classroom…
• Many students ‘hate’ reading but everyone loves
• Independent reading is only likely to be beneficial if
students can decode fluently
• How can you practise fluency?
• Is listening ‘cheating’?
– Reading comprehension is highly correlated with listening
comprehension (Bell & Perfetti, 1994; Gernsbacher, Varner, & Faust,
– For difficult-to-understand texts, prosody can be a real aid
to understanding. (Kosslyn & Matt, 1977)
• Don’t make students ‘follow along’.
Working memory model
Baddeley, Working Memory: Theories,
Models, and Controversies (2011)
The phonological loop system
Words are ‘stored’ for about 2 seconds
before needing to be rehearsed.
The silent voice
• ‘Silent’ reading is pretty recent
– “…his eyes scanned the page and his heart
sought out the meaning, but his voice was
silent and his tongue was still. Anyone could
approach him freely and guests were not
commonly announced, so that often, when we
came to visit him, we found him reading like
this in silence, for he never read aloud.
Augustine, Confessions Book Six, Chapter Three
• Silence may be an illusion:
– We all subvocalise
– Prosody adds meaning
St Ambrose – 340 - 397 CE
Rubenstein, Lewis & Rubenstein, 1971; Colheart et al., 1977;
Seidenberg et al., 1996; Ferrand, 2001 (Chapter 4)
Are you reading ‘aloud’?
Lolita, light of my life,
fire of my loins. My sin,
my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the
tip of the tongue taking
a trip of three steps
down the palate to tap,
at three, on the teeth.
Lo. Lee. Ta.
• Which should be our goal?
• Reading fluency benefits everyone in the
system but committing lesson time to
reading fluency tends not to benefit
Reading makes you smarter
Very much 2.4 63.5 34.2
Quite a lot 4.2 83.5 12.3
A bit 17.4 75.8 6.8
Not at all 37 54.9 8.1
Enjoyment of reading and reading attainment in 2012 (n=13,710)
Reading makes you cleverer
Every day 3.7 68.3 26.1
A few times a week 7.1 81.7 11.2
About once a week 13.6 78.4 8
A few times a month 14.1 78.8 7.1
About once a month 18.9 72.2 8.9
Rarely 25.1 67 7.9
Never 36.2 58.3 5.4
Reading frequency and reading attainment in 2012 (n=13,710)
Knowledge and reading
• The more you read, the more you know
• How can we get children who cannot
decode fluently to read independently?
• The promise of ‘just reading’.
Westbrook et al 2019
1. There’s no correlation between
decoding and intelligence
2. Reading fluency is perhaps the most
pressing issue in schools
3. Comprehension depends on
4. Everyone loves stories
5. Being read to can help make kids
“It is so easy to be wrong – and to persist in
being wrong – when the costs of being wrong
are paid by others.” Thomas Sowell