Reading Development: Models and Processes Learning to read requires a child to translate and understand the written language code as they would oral language. For the typically developing child, learning to read requires the coordination and use of several levels of language analysis. The initial stage requires learning how to decode written language, which uses ... Article
Article  |   February 01, 2003
Reading Development: Models and Processes
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Robin D. Morris
    Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
  • Rose A. Sevcik
    Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Article Information
Development / Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Articles
Article   |   February 01, 2003
Reading Development: Models and Processes
SIG 12 Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, February 2003, Vol. 12, 3-5. doi:10.1044/aac12.1.3
SIG 12 Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, February 2003, Vol. 12, 3-5. doi:10.1044/aac12.1.3
Learning to read requires a child to translate and understand the written language code as they would oral language. For the typically developing child, learning to read requires the coordination and use of several levels of language analysis. The initial stage requires learning how to decode written language, which uses the child’s phonological awareness knowledge in the segmentation and blending of both individual speech sounds and clusters. Children without such metacognitive understanding of the phonological structure of words will have difficulty in learning to read. As reading development continues, beginning readers start to rely on sounding out words using phonological processing skills as taught in the various approaches to phonics, but context-free word identification skills are needed for those irregular words that do not follow the alphabetic code as well. As these processes become automatic through systematic instruction and significant reading experience and practice, the child becomes a more fluent reader. Such proficient readers sample words using letter patterns, or what are frequently called spelling patterns. However, this is actually an important sign that they have switched more to a primarily orthographic processing mode of reading. Because the brain is such an excellent pattern recognizer, and because English (and other languages) has common, frequently re-occurring letter sequences, with increasing reading experience, a child begins to automatically attend to these patterns. The result is a very rapid processing of the written words. When a child has become a fast and accurate reader of words, his/her brain’s attentional and other cognitive resources are released to focus on the comprehension and understanding of the text message, which is the ultimate goal of all reading instruction. Of course, children whose underlying oral language and vocabulary are not well developed may be strong word decoders, but have significant problems in reading comprehension because of their underlying oral language weakness. Such children are different from those who cannot break the alphabetic code; they do not become fluent word readers and, as a result, their comprehension is affected, since their primary cognitive resources are being used to try to identify each word. In summary, the skilled reader must both fluently decode and understand what he/she is reading. Thus, the development of phonological awareness, phonics, and fluent single word decoding skills are necessary but not sufficient for successful reading acquisition (for an overview, see Adams, 1990 .)
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