Dr. David Kilpatrick: There’s two different levels of word reading that we have to take account of and it seems that many of our remediation approaches, we focus mostly on one. And that’s the first. What distinguishes skilled readers from poor readers is first of all, their ability to sound out unfamiliar words. Skilled readers are very good at that. Make no mistake. All skilled readers of an alphabet based writing system, have phonics skills. Either they were taught them or they figured them out on their own. How do we know this? We know this because any skilled reader pass third grade, I mean you can kind of fake your way through kindergarten first and maybe start running out of steam and second without this. But if you are a skilled reader from third grade on, if someone shows you nonsense words, you can read them.
Dr. David Kilpatrick: I mean, I saw a couple of studies where they cut it off after 16 or 18 exposures, they still didn’t get it. So there’s a big difference there compared to one to four exposures. And most of those were older kids, not second graders. So skilled readers are not good at remembering the words they read and the focus of today’s presentation is on the second item, but you can’t get to the second without the first. Again, we don’t have any skilled readers who can do the second, are good at remembering the words they read that can’t read nonsense words. And it’s all based on the alphabetic principle. So you could have, there are a few different Chinese languages. One in the West we call Mandarin and other we call Cantonese. And if you have two people speaking those languages exclusively, they would have a hard time communicating with each other because they’re different languages.
Dr. David Kilpatrick: But it’s quite possible the two of them could read the same newspaper at the same time. How does that happen? Well, it happens because the writing system is not keyed into the individual phonemes within spoken speech. That’s how alphabetic writing is. It turns out that in alphabetic writing systems like English or German or French or Spanish, we don’t write words. We write phoning characters and then we string them together and we call them a written word. So what we’re writing is sequences of characters that are designed to capture the phonemes within spoken words. And so if you have poor access to phonemes, cognitively and linguistically, then you’re going to struggle reading an alphabet base, a phoning based writing system, which really is what an alphabet base writing system is. Now, here’s what’s interesting. Phoneme skills are necessary both for sounding out new words but also remembering words.
Dr. David Kilpatrick: The second one is not obvious at all but we’re going to learn about that and we’re going to learn what the orthographic learning research has taught us about that over the last 35, 40 years. Let’s take a look up the reading panel said, if you stop and think about it exactly. How does phonemic awareness influence reading the phoneme skills? Exactly how? Well, I think the blending part’s pretty easy. The skill of blending is needed to decode unfamiliar words. That’s a quote from the national reading panel. Think about it. Child sees the word cat for the first time and they go c, and you’re like, great, hard c, Eh, eh. You’re like, Oh good, a – short a – and then t, super. And then the kid looks at you and says, “What’s the word?” And you’re like, “What’s the word? You just sounded it out, right?”
Dr. David Kilpatrick: That child has a problem with blending, they’re hearing the individual sounds, but they’re not able to blend so that it activates a word that they know. All right, that’s understandable. So phonic decoding is based upon three skills. Number one, your letter sound knowledge. Number two, your ability to blend. And then number three, slightly more advanced is your knowledge of familiar patterns or syllable types that we see. But what about segmenting? And in other words, what does segmenting have to do with reading? When you stop and think about it, it’s not obvious. I mean, you can understand what it would have to do with spelling, but what would it have to do with reading? Because when we read all the words on the page or pre-segmented for us by way of the letters. So what would segmentation has to do with reading? Why does it correlate so strongly with reading?
Dr. David Kilpatrick: Well, this is what the reading panel said back in 2000, phonemic segmentation helps children remember how to read and spell words. Well that’s not obvious and that’s what I’m going to take you through. I’m going to show you what research has shown about how the segmentation skill allows us to remember the words we read.