Decoding and Comprehension

Every word is decodable. The natural reader is able to look at a word, pronounce it, read it, and understand it, because she/he has been able to decode that word. At some time before reading and understanding the word, the natural reader has proceeded to do something of the following: Noticed and sounded out each letter of the word. Used information he/she already knew about decoding the word. Used new information about sounding the word. Used any or all of this information to sound out the word. Used words and information stored in the word recognition area to sound out the word.

Once the natural reader has figured out the prounuciation of the word, she/he proceeds to the something of the following: Used new information to learn the meaning of the word, and stored the word and the meaning in the comprehension area for future reference. Related the word to textual context to figure out the meaning of the word. Compared the word to (an)other word(s) with similar meaning(s). Used all previously learned information stored in the comprehension area to make connections in order to understand the word.

Every word is decodable. The struggling reader, however, usually has difficulty with the decoding, and so is unsuccessful with the rest of the process. He/she needs her/his instructor to show her/him explicitly, concretely, and multi-sensorily HOW to make every word decodable. The instructor should begin wherever the problem begins, providing the learner detailed and thorough assistance with every part of the decoding process for the word, in order to discover the "sound spelling". Wherever the spelling of the word deviates from the usual or expected sound, the instructor should help the learner recognize and learn the difference.

Once the reader has figured out the "sound spelling" and has learned the word's actual written spelling, the learner is able to follow the path of the natural reader, as detailed in paragraph two. Eventually, many struggling readers will also be able to follow the path of the natural reader, as detailed in paragraph one. At that point, the term "struggling reader" will no longer apply.


Anita Landoll

Anita Landoll

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