Monday, 7 September 2015

Learning to read. What works?

In today's Sydney Morning Herald, Speech Pathologist, Alison Clarke, writes about the challenges for parents in wading through the plethora of marketing to determine the best approach to assist their child who struggles with their reading or who has a diagnosis of dyslexia.

Alison specialises in working with students in schools, who struggle to learn to read. In today's article she says, "The typical struggling beginner reader/speller has difficulties with sounding out words.... and perhaps 20 per cent of children find it very difficult.”
“They must be explicitly taught systematically work through the system by which our 44 speech sounds are represented by over 200 spellings of one, two, three or four letters, with many spellings representing more than one sound."

Read more about Alison at There is a wealth of great commentary and resources on her website.

How does learning to read relate to Easy English?
Easy English is developed for the reader who needs information now, most often for adults with low functional or non-functional literacy skills, but also secondary school students who have missed the building blocks of literacy early on and are only now learning to read and understand basic written materials. Easy English modifies the written content of information you need to read now, to a level so that the adult or student can participate in their school or community.

I have seen students who struggle to read, given a matrix assessment task, time and again. They cannot identify what or how to complete the classroom based tasks (eg for geography). Consequently these students are seen as weak or poor students, or non complaint. Often it is because the matrix or assessment task has been written in such a way the student cannot read the complex language. The task becomes a reading task, rather than a knowledge based task on geology, climate or some other content of the subject. Poor self esteem, lack of confidence and non compliance follow. 

Easy English ensures everyday words are used in developed materials. It does not set out to teach someone to read, however, evidence has shown time and again, those people who do have the basic building blocks of literacy and spelling are more able to attempt the reading of the Easy English content. Consequently, someone who describes themselves as a "non-reader" actually does read more written material. We all know the more we practice a skill the better it gets. I have seen this time and again. Then self confidence and self esteem increase, and the person is more willing to try the next piece of written material.

win - win for everyone in this, our society, where literacy is so highly valued and is everywhere.


Cathy Basterfield
Speech Pathologist
Access Easy English
ph: 0466 579 855


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