Reading is not a skill that comes naturally. Even highly skilled readers had to be taught at some point. If reading came naturally, like speaking, most children would arrive at school already reading at a reasonable skill level. Simply showing a child a book does not teach him to read. Reading requires explicit and systematic instruction. For many children, the skills required to read must be broken down into smaller steps and practiced one at a time. For this reason, it is essential that reading teachers be thoroughly prepared and knowledgeable in their field. The following list includes terms commonly used when discussing teaching reading and struggling readers:
- Accuracy is the ability to recognize words when they are read.
- Decoding means that the reader is able to translate a word from print to spoken. It demonstrates that the reader understands the sounds that match the symbols (letters). It is also what happens when a reader deciphers a word by “sounding it out.”
- Dyslexia is a language-based disability that affects both oral and written language. The most common manifestation of dyslexia is turning letters backward when one writes (“d” for “b,” for example), or mistaking one letter for another when reading.
- Fluency is the ability to read accurately, swiftly, and with correct expression and comprehension. Fluent readers do not have to concentrate on decoding words, so they can pay attention to the meaning of what they read.
- Literacy is reading, writing, and everything else involved in producing and understanding texts.
- A language learning disability is a disorder that may affect the comprehension and use of spoken or written language as well as nonverbal language, such as eye contact and tone of speech, in both adults and children.
- A learning disability is a disorder that affects one’s ability to either interpret what is seen and/or heard or to link information from different parts of the brain.
- Naming speed is the rate at which one can recite memorized stimuli, including letters and numbers.
- A child with oral language difficulties may exhibit poor vocabulary, low listening comprehension skills, or below-average grammatical abilities for his age.
- Orton-Gillingham is a multisensory approach to remediating dyslexia created by Dr. Samuel Orton, a neuropsychiatrist and pathologist, and Anna Gillingham, an educator and psychologist.
- Phonemic awareness is the ability to see, understand, and interact with the individual sounds in words. For example, a beginning reader demonstrates phonemic awareness by combining or blending the separate sounds of a word to say the word (/c/ /a/ /t/ - cat).
- Phonics instruction is a form of reading instruction based on the alphabetic principle that there is a predictable relationship between sounds and symbols (letters), and that this information can be used to decode words.
There is a substantial stream of research on the different techniques of teaching reading. The single most important factor in the quality of instruction in any academic subject is the effectiveness of the teacher. While it helps for the parents to understand the terminology of the world of reading instruction, it really is true that the teacher can make all the difference.
You can learn about the latest research in the field of teaching reading in Reading Horizons Free E-Book: