The Speed Of Comprehension
How many times have you had to read something more than once to get the concept of what the author is trying to convey? Even the most prolific "speed reader", if he has to scan the same text over and over and over again, is slowed to the crawl of the average reader by this phenomenon.
Have you had to look up a words only to find that you "knew" that word, you just did not recognize it written?
The same phenomenon that may cause you to "repeat read" is to a greater or lesser degree the phenomenon that causes illiteracy for others. It also causes slow comprehension, reduced reading speed, impaired spelling skills, etc.
This slows your production and also cuts into your free time and reading enjoyment.
This is not a permanent condition. In fact in as little as thirty minutes you will start to eliminate this and with more self directed/home study it could literally vanish.
In The Handbook of Reading Research: Volume III (Kamil, Mosenthal, Pearson, & Barr, 2000) in the chapter How Can Reading Comprehension Be Improved Through Research-Validated Instruction?, the research expressed the following data that will help speed comprehension:
"Reading is often thought of as a hierarchy of skills, from processing of individual letters and their associated sounds to word recognition to text-processing competencies.
Skilled comprehension requires fluid articulation of all these processes, beginning with the sounding out and recognition of individual words to the understanding of sentences in paragraphs as part of much longer texts. There is instruction at all of these levels that can be carried out so as to increase student understanding of what is read.
Decoding. Perhaps it is a truism, but students cannot understand texts if they cannot read the words. Before they can read the words, they have to be aware of the letters and the sounds represented by letters so that sounding out and blending of sounds can occur to pronounce words (see, e.g., Nicholson, 1991). Once pronounced, the good reader notices whether the word as recognized makes sense in the sentence and the text context being read and, if it does not, takes another look at the word to check if it might have been misread (e.g., Gough, 1983, 1984). Of course, reading educators have paid enormous attention to the development of children's word-recognition skills because they recognize that such skills are critical to the development of skilled comprehenders.
Summary. Based on research, a strong case can be made for doing the following in order to improve reading comprehension in students:
- Teach decoding skills.
- Teach vocabulary.
- Encourage students to build world knowledge through reading and to relate what they know to what they read (e.g., by asking why questions about factual knowledge in text).
- Teach students to use a repertoire of active comprehension strategies, including prediction, analyzing stories with respect to story grammar elements, question asking, image construction, and summarizing.
- Encourage students to monitor their comprehension, noting explicitly whether decoded words make sense and whether the text itself makes sense.
When problems are detected, students should know that they need to reprocess (e.g., by attempting to sound out problematic words again or rereading)."
Thus, a first recommendation to educators who want to improve students' comprehension skills is to teach them to decode well. Explicit instruction, which has been so well validated as helping many to recognize words more certainly (e.g., Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998, online document), is a start in developing good comprehenders -- but it is just a start. Word-recognition skills must be developed to the point of fluency if comprehension benefits are to be maximized.
But how does one develop to the point of fluency in decoding skills and where does one start?
The Literacy Pod is a dedicated audio and video player with full comprehensive instruction (Action Reading Fundamentals and Power Spelling). The introductory overview video and audio instruction are on the player. Included in the package are two workbooks, one for fundamentals and one for spelling, as well as cards and reinforcement activities. Everything needed is included for these two courses.
Developed by Dr. George Cureton, this self-directed course is taught by Jeanie Eller, one of America's leading reading specialists and literacy consultants. These courses are as effective for adults to improve their skills as it is for elementary students learning for the first time.
In about 20 hours of study, an average person can achieve fluency.