Ten Surprising Facts About Reading:
1 out of every 3 Americans, over 90 million people, struggles with Reading
1. 98% of reading is an auditory/listening task.
Only 2% of reading is visual.
Listening to a story and reading that same story will
activate the exact same pathways in the brain. It's
not where the sensory information comes from but,
where it ends up in the brain. Our eyes act
more like ears when we read.
2. Seven out of eight students with
reading problems in first grade
continue to struggle with reading in
9th grade. They get better but never
catch up. Improving listening skills is often
the easiest route to improving reading
3. Think things are different for teens and
adults? Think again. The teen brain
doesn't radically shift when a student leaves
elementary school. Almost all teens and adults with
reading problems suffer from untreated auditory
problems. Listening issues are at the root of
fluency and comprehension difficulties.
4. Listening skills, including:
phonemic awareness (hearing all the sounds in a
spoken word), auditory attention, auditory
sequencing, and listening vocabulary are the
most important factors in natural reading.
Teachers often notice that the child who has a hard
time listening to a story also struggles to read.
5. The biggest barrier to comprehension is
lack of fluency. Less than 15% of learning
disabled students have comprehension problems if
they read accurately and read faster than 80 words
a minute. The National Reading Panel found that
comprehension instruction should be only taught
after reading accuracy and fluency are mastered. It
is like teaching a child how to steer a bike before
they learn how to pedal.
6. The National Reading Panel found that
phonics instruction was of marginal
benefit unless a student has
well-developed phonemic awareness. This is why some
first graders pick up phonics in months and
struggling readers can take years. Oh! The
7. English is the most difficult major
language to listen to (comprehend) and to
read. For struggling readers, listening to
English can be like listening to a foreign language
you haven't quite mastered.
8. The next advances in reading instruction will
not come from what is taught but how
reading is taught. Improving
reading skills and reading
instruction will advance when we are no
longer forced to choose between the two dominant
theories in reading education today "reading will
improve reading" vs. "drilled instruction".
Advances in the cognitive sciences, such as
reduced error learning and distributed
instruction, will ensure that all students learn
9. The main reason English is so difficult to
speak, listen to and to read is because spoken
English has an exceptional number of vowel
sounds (phonemes). The ability to
hear and identify individual sounds is what
separates natural readers from struggling readers.
Many weak readers struggle with spelling and most
of their errors - not surprisingly -- are with
10. Students who read at a lower grade level
are at serious academic risk. The kids who
read Harry Potter in fourth grade
aren't "average fourth grade " readers.
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