Who Is Talking?
How does it work?
How can I use it?
Before you start
Phonics vs Whole Language
Why a Patent?
Is RTR an invention?
Just an experiment?
Plans and Hopes
Before you start using the program, think about it.
Reading should be easier than speaking. Segmentation of the message into individual words is visually obvious. No subtle coordination of breath, vocal cords, tongue, and mouth shape are required. Only understanding the connection between the marks on the page and the spoken word is required.
And in fact many infants learn to read quite young. I did. Probably you did or you know people who did.
I remember the process pretty well. I remember loving to sit in my mother's lap and have her read me stories from illustrated children's books. I remember frustration because she never had enough time - there couldn't be enough time - to get as much of this as I wanted.
I remember getting the idea that the story didn't come from her, but from the marks at the bottom of the page. First I had to realize that this was why she was pointing with her finger to those marks, and that was an act of discovery in itself. Then I started noticing the repetitions of sounds associated with certain marks. Some were easy to remember, and even to make sense of, some not so easy.
She always insisted that I was reading at 18 months of age, though of course I don't remember being any particular age at the time. I do remember how small I was in her lap, and that diapers were a normal part of life. In fact I don't remember communicating verbally very well at the time. But I remember the feeling of triumph when I could get the stories for myself, even when she was too busy.
I'm sure that your baby can so this also.
Your baby can have the advantage of a computer presentation that makes the lesson far easier to absorb. Your baby doesn't need to figure out what a pointing finger means. Your baby will not be distracted by the moving finger at all.
Your finger will never accidentally block the word you're trying to point to, nor lag behind your reading, nor race ahead. Your baby will see each word get bigger just as you read it. The word will be the only thing on the page that moves or changes as you read it.
Normal stages of reading; standard instruction
You probably know that there is hot debate about the best ways to teach reading, but there is a bit more agreement on the stages that learners go through on their way to mastery. To introduce you to the ideas and vocabulary, here is a sketch of the views of one recognized expert, Linnea Ehri.(Ehri 1994)
Although various ways to read words exist, including by sight, by phonological decoding, by detecting and pronouncing orthographic patterns, by analogizing, and by contextual guessing, the development of the ability to read words can be divided into three phases, each of which is characterized by a different approach to the problem of decoding the visual symbols.
These three phases are:
(a) logographic, in which distinctive visual patterns or cues represent words,
(b) alphabetic: first a novice phase in which letter-sound correspondences such as initial and boundary letter sounds are used as cues, then a mature phase with phonological recoding skill and sight-word amalgamation,
(c) orthographic, in which spelling patterns are recognized as representing phonemes.
These phases succeed each other and overlap, but a certain level of mastery of each may be a prerequisite to success in the next, and ultimately required for progression to full reading ability, according to Ehri. She further subdivides these processes according to their applicability to familiar and unfamiliar words.
A rough schedule of the normal appearance of these phases is:
logographic preschool, without formal instruction
novice alphabetic when letter names and sounds are learned, start of formal instruction
mature alphabetic 1st or 2nd year of instruction, as decoding skill is gained
orthographic 2nd or 3rd year of instruction, as a mental inventory of spelling patterns and induced sublexical relations becomes functional.
However, although these concepts as presented by Ehri are widely used and have some experimental support, there are other explanations that show this picture cannot be the whole story for all. These competing accounts also have experimental support.
For a more in-depth study of the development of the ability to read, and the usual meaning of "early" reading, click here to see a paper I wrote on Early Reading.
Or click here to see an outline of language aquisition (not reading), provided for a university course.
The current URL is http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~parsonst/beforstart.html
This file was last modified 18-Nov-2001
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