Monday, October 5, 2020

Russ on Reading: Word Recognition: To what extent is it "self-taught?"

Russ on Reading: Word Recognition: To what extent is it "self-taught?"

Word Recognition: To what extent is it "self-taught?"

I taught myself how to decode. No, I was not some precocious early reader who intuited how words work at three and was reading before entering school. And, yes, my first grade teacher. Ms. Rickles, did a very creditable job in teaching me the alphabetic principal and the phonological awareness I needed to get myself started on the road to being a reader. Most of what I learned about the ways words work, however, I learned by reading and I can distinctly remember that happening to me. 

Early in the second grade, my mother enrolled me in the Weekly Reader Book Club. I was thrilled when the package with my first book arrived with my name on it. The book was a Whitman/Golden Book adaptation of  a Disney True Life Adventure documentary series called The Living Desert. The book contained lots to interest a seven-year-old boy and I read it with a vengeance. It was probably a bit above my reading level, but with the help of my understanding of  sound/symbol relationships learned in school, a bit of my own background knowledge, the copious pictures in the book, and some determination, I was able to decode words like iguana, rattlesnake, prairie dog, desolate, tortoise, habitat, evaporation and so forth. Along the way, although I was not aware of it at the time, of course, I was teaching myself the orthographic system of our language. The more I read, the stronger, richer, ad deeper this understanding became.

It has been estimated that there are about 88,500 distinct word families in CONTINUE READING: Russ on Reading: Word Recognition: To what extent is it "self-taught?"