Learning How to Read


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I believe what @JohnsonJones is referring to is what used to be called the "look-say method". This is the way literate adults read: They do not "sound out" a word phonetically, but look at it holistically and recognize it by shape and context.

A generation or so back, some pointy-headed so-called "educators" disgraced that label by proposing that little children should be taught to read as adults do, by the "look-say" method. The result, predictably, was a generation of almost illiterate children, who had to be taught as teenagers how to read phonetically. Because phonetics is obviously the root of our writing system, even in such a supposedly "non-phonetic" language as English. Only later, after viewing the same words many thousands of times, do our brains naturally acquire the skill and habit of recognizing words by overall shape and context rather than by careful analysis of each letter or phoneme.

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12 minutes ago, lostinwater said:

Might trying listening to books.  Or if it's not available as audio normally, you can get the text and convert into a mp3 of the computer-speech with any one of a number of free programs.  Depending the complexity of the content/speed of the narrator, you often can get it up to 2.5-3x normal.  It's speed listening .

And, you can multi-task while doing it.

Note: it does not work well for poetry :)  

Yes, that's a good method.  I already do that. 

I've "read" several of Sanderson's larger works by listening at 2x speed to the audio books.  One thing they did to shorten the audio was to truncate the conversations.  With voice actors having distinct voices, they didn't need to say "he said" or "she shouted".  They simply had the actor shout it or whatever.  They didn't need to indicate which person was speaking because the voice did the job.  So, the audio track was shorter than what I would have read for that reason alone -- at least for the conversation heavy passages.  Then the 2x speed made it even faster.  I tend to read in my head about 1.3x speed of most audio books.

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2 minutes ago, Vort said:

I believe what @JohnsonJones is referring to is what used to be called the "look-say method". This is the way literate adults read: They do not "sound out" a word phonetically, but look at it holistically and recognize it by shape and context.

A generation or so back, some pointy-headed so-called "educators" disgraced that label by proposing that little children should be taught to read as adults do, by the "look-say" method. The result, predictably, was a generation of almost illiterate children, who had to be taught as teenagers how to read phonetically. Because phonetics is obviously the root of our writing system, even in such a supposedly "non-phonetic" language as English. Only later, after viewing the same words many thousands of times, do our brains naturally acquire the skill and habit of recognizing words by overall shape and context rather than by careful analysis of each letter or phoneme.

I understood that as well.  And I was pointing out that I already do that with single words.  I simply cannot comprehend how someone can do that with sentences that are greater than, say seven words.  The permutations of words are virtually infinite.  How can one read the same sentence thousands -- or even hundreds -- of times when such combinations are so varied?

Then another notch up when you're talking about an entire paragraph or page.  How is that possible?

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19 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

The "picking out main words" is basically skimming.  And it can lead to misunderstandings quite easily.  The "paragraph as a picture" (if you're saying the same thing I've heard about before) is what I simply don't understand.  I don't see how that can be.

I've heard that people develop a skill to be able to glance at a page and see a moving picture or hear an instantaneous audio of the happenings of the entire page.  I don't know how that's possible.  it seems like a savant skill that one simply cannot learn.

Yes, it's skimming.  And yes it can lead to misunderstandings quite easily.  My son does this for video games and pleasure reading like when he read Mistborn.  Context in these cases are hard to miss because the context is supported - in the case of video games - by everything else happening on the screen and - in the case of Mistborn - by the flow of the story.

As far as my other son, it's not like seeing a moving picture.  Rather, he sees the entire sentence as a picture instead of a bunch of letters/words.  So, basically, we see this image:  🌷 as a picture and in our heads it translates to flower.  My son sees this:  flower  as a picture in the exact same manner that he sees this 🌷 as a picture. 

It's not a savant skill, I don't think, because they taught that manner of reading in public schools in Cleveland back in the 80's.  It's simply that some people are more adept at phonetic reading whereas some people are more adept at visual reading just like some people write with their right hand while others write with their left.  Left-handers can definitely learn to exclusively write with the right hand but it's easier for them to write with their left.

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7 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

Yes, it's skimming.  And yes it can lead to misunderstandings quite easily.  My son does this for video games and pleasure reading like when he read Mistborn.  Context in these cases are hard to miss because the context is supported - in the case of video games - by everything else happening on the screen and - in the case of Mistborn - by the flow of the story.

I've never been able to get the "flow" of the story without paying attention to everything.  This may be one reason why I find movies and TV shows to be so predictable.  I see all the clues ahead of time.  It's pretty obvious -- except for shows that tend to put red herrings all over the place or come up with a conclusion that was pretty far fetched.

Quote

As far as my other son, it's not like seeing a moving picture.  Rather, he sees the entire sentence as a picture instead of a bunch of letters/words.  So, basically, we see this image:  🌷 as a picture and in our heads it translates to flower.  My son sees this:  flower  as a picture in the exact same manner that he sees this 🌷 as a picture. 

Again, for single words I do the same thing.  I don't understand how he does that with an entire paragraph.  How does he see a subject performing an action to a direct object as a single picture with just a glance?

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5 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

My son sees this:  flower  as a picture in the exact same manner that he sees this 🌷 as a picture.

My internal dialog, lasting perhaps three seconds:

"Hmmm. A guy in a green jacket with a weirdly shaped head. Let's look at flower. Oh, wait, that's not a link. It must refer to something else in context. Step back...oh, it refers to the icon. Is that a flower? Yeah, I guess it is. Huh."

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6 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

Yes, that's a good method.  I already do that. 

I've "read" several of Sanderson's larger works by listening at 2x speed to the audio books.  One thing they did to shorten the audio was to truncate the conversations.  With voice actors having distinct voices, they didn't need to say "he said" or "she shouted".  They simply had the actor shout it or whatever.  They didn't need to indicate which person was speaking because the voice did the job.  So, the audio track was shorter than what I would have read for that reason alone.  Then the 2x speed made it even faster.  I tend to read in my head about 1.4x speed of most audio books.

Very good point.  Never thought about that, but you're right.  That does make them shorter.  

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1 minute ago, Carborendum said:

Again, for single words I do the same thing.  I don't understand how he does that with an entire paragraph.

I don't quite understand how he learned to do that either.  One time, we were talking about this exact thing, and I asked him to read a paragraph where I inserted a Filipino word in the middle.  He threw out the entire thing back to me in a second and said there's a non-English word in it.  I asked him how he saw that immediately and he said it "jumped out of the page".

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2 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

I don't quite understand how he learned to do that either.  One time, we were talking about this exact thing, and I asked him to read a paragraph where I inserted a Filipino word in the middle.  He threw out the entire thing back to me in a second and said there's a non-English word in it.  I asked him how he saw that immediately and he said it "jumped out of the page".

Like I said, it appears to be a savant-type trait.  Question, though, how well could he memorize a passage verbatim?   Not the "gist of the  passage", but repeat word for word?

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11 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

Like I said, it appears to be a savant-type trait.

Ahhmm... I don't think so.  I think his brains just processes differently.  He has a different way of seeing numbers too.  Math was a difficult thing for him until I figured out he actually sees numbers as visual objects instead of something abstract.  The thing is, when he was in 2nd grade I thought he was "not too bright".  My husband also thinks he's (my husband is) "not too bright" because he was also failing in math when he was in school.  But after I moved my son to the Montessori that actually taught math in a self-discovery manner, my son aced math!  So, I think - but I have no scientific research to back this up - that we simply have not explored children actually having different ways of processing information.  Rather, we just assume that... say, phonetic reading instruction is THE way to learn to read and if you have to put a lot more effort to be proficient at it then you're just "not too bright" - or in your case, "a slow reader".  So, if I am interested enough in my discoveries as I raised my children, I would run some scientific research into the matter and see what percentage of children we write off as low-performers are actually simply because their natural brain processes don't match the educational instruction method.

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19 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

Ahhmm... I don't think so.  I think his brains just processes differently. 

And... what do you think a savant does?

Anyway, I just asked my speed reading son what he does (he reads about 1000 words per minute).  I described what you said about your sons.  He said that he does something between you one son and your other son.  He'll read a paragraph and the meaning and images download automatically.  But he slows it down enough that he can get key words for later reference.  It is only those key words that really stay with him if it wasn't part of that image.

Then I told him how I sub-vocalize everything I read, and I sacrifice speed in order to do so.  It's not a choice.  That's simply how I read.  The benefit is that I have a lot of comprehension and near total recall.  Something that I don't get when I'm skimming.

He said that there would be no way he could recite anything that he reads.  He can retell the story in his own words.  He does, sometimes, find a particular passage to be worth remembering and slows down and repeats that passage a few times to memorize that passage.  And he memorizes fairly fast.

I'm going to guess that this is something I'm never going to be able to do.

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13 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

And... what do you think a savant does?

Anyway, I just asked my speed reading son what he does (he reads about 1000 words per minute).  I described what you said about your sons.  He said that he does something between you one son and your other son.  He'll read a paragraph and the meaning and images download automatically.  But he slows it down enough that he can get key words for later reference.  It is only those key words that really stay with him if it wasn't part of that image.

Then I told him how I sub-vocalize everything I read, and I sacrifice speed in order to do so.  It's not a choice.  That's simply how I read.  The benefit is that I have a lot of comprehension and near total recall.  Something that I don't get when I'm skimming.

He said that there would be no way he could recite anything that he reads.  He can retell the story in his own words.  He does, sometimes, find a particular passage to be worth remembering and slows down and repeats that passage a few times to memorize that passage.  And he memorizes fairly fast.

I'm going to guess that this is something I'm never going to be able to do.

Don't give up too quick!  Maybe start with flashcards... for practice.  I think your brain is wired for it.

Hmm, yeah, scripture mastery (reciting scripture from memory) is something my 1st son is a lot better at than my 2nd son.  But, I think that has something to do with my 1st son being a whole lot more serious about his Priesthood duties... but maybe their differences in style have an impact, I just never thought of it.

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9 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

Don't give up too quick!  Maybe start with flashcards... for practice.  I think your brain is wired for it.

Hmm, yeah, scripture mastery (reciting scripture from memory) is something my 1st son is a lot better at than my 2nd son.  But, I think that has something to do with my 1st son being a whole lot more serious about his Priesthood duties... but maybe their differences in style have an impact, I just never thought of it.

How would you do flashcards of a paragraph?

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1 hour ago, anatess2 said:

Interestingly, President Marcos - Philippine dictator - is a visual reader.  He is so good at it that he can look at a page for a few seconds, put it down, and deliver the page in a speech without looking at it again. 

This can be trained; I've never managed to stick to it long enough myself, but I had a cousin who swore his perfect recall of written information was the result of years spent memorizing the Bible in the late 1940s and early 50s, first one verse at a time, then two, and so on until he could commit multiple pages to long term memory in one sitting, and then three other versions until he just did it with any text he read automatically.  He was a great teacher, but also a bit unnerving when he could quote students' papers perfectly whether he'd just finished grading them or they were handed back 10-20 years before.  He had a lot of students whose parents had also been in his class, and he'd point out similarities in handwriting or phrasing to a paper he hadn't seen in a generation.

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19 hours ago, zil said:

For fiction and scripture, at least, I read at the same pace as if I were reading aloud with emphasis and feeling appropriate to the passage I'm reading.  That's pretty slow.  If I try to speed up, the "voice" in my head gets out of sync with what my brain is understanding and they trip all over each other - that has literally happened, and I have to tell my brain to just slow down and follow along with the voice part of me.

(Relevant note: I always read fiction in paper, not electronic.)  ... IMO, this is something to savor, not something to rush through.  

I agree completely. And I happen to relish the scent (and the feel) of book-paper pages, especially the older ones. 

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1 minute ago, Mike said:

And I happen to relish the scent (and the feel) of book-paper pages

Oh, yeah, love the smell of a new paperback.  Kinda like new computer smell - not in that they're similar, just that I enjoy both.

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1 minute ago, zil said:

Oh, yeah, love the smell of a new paperback.  Kinda like new computer smell - not in that they're similar, just that I enjoy both.

When I was 19 I took my old paper-back copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and had them bound. The pages are now brown. When I re-read (them as opposed to holding a newer edition) I feel as if I'm holding a treasure. :)

 

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31 minutes ago, NightSG said:

This can be trained; I've never managed to stick to it long enough myself, but I had a cousin who swore his perfect recall of written information was the result of years spent memorizing the Bible in the late 1940s and early 50s, first one verse at a time, then two, and so on until he could commit multiple pages to long term memory in one sitting, and then three other versions until he just did it with any text he read automatically.  He was a great teacher, but also a bit unnerving when he could quote students' papers perfectly whether he'd just finished grading them or they were handed back 10-20 years before.  He had a lot of students whose parents had also been in his class, and he'd point out similarities in handwriting or phrasing to a paper he hadn't seen in a generation.

And here's one more... President Marcos was sent to prison for being implicated in the murder of his father's opponent for the National Assembly.  He was convicted in the lower court but got overturned by the Supreme Court.  Marcos defended himself, reciting entire sections of the Constitution from memory.  He even recited entire sections backwards!

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1 hour ago, anatess2 said:

Start with words.  Then do sentences.  Then do paragraphs.

For about the fifth time.  I already do what you're saying with individual words.  I think I can skip that part.

My question about sentences and paragraphs is that there are basically an infinite number of permutations that sentences come in.  I can write one sentence.  I can write 100 sentences.  But with a combination of 30,000 words at my disposal, the number of sentences that I'd have to put together to make this methodology at all useful would be virtually infinite.  How is flashing a few hundred sentences supposed to help?

Paragraphs?  Forget about it.

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1 minute ago, anatess2 said:

And here's one more... President Marcos was sent to prison for being implicated in the murder of his father's opponent for the National Assembly.  He was convicted in the lower court but got overturned by the Supreme Court.  Marcos defended himself, reciting entire sections of the Constitution from memory.  He even recited entire sections backwards!

The comprehension level is the amazing part.  My cousin, given some random name dug up from I Chronicles, could immediately give the exact relation to any other name.  He could also recite differences between the versions he'd memorized, explanations from other texts he'd read related to those differences and his own reasons for preferring a particular translation or interpretation of each verse.  Since he was also certified to teach English, ministers would often have him look over their sermon text, after which he'd sleep through that part of the service, since he'd then remember the sermon in perfect context for the rest of his life anyway.

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6 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

For about the fifth time.  I already do what you're saying with individual words.  I think I can skip that part.

My question about sentences and paragraphs is that there are basically an infinite number of permutations that sentences come in.  I can write one sentence.  I can write 100 sentences.  But with a combination of 30,000 words at my disposal, the number of sentences that I'd have to put together to make this methodology at all useful would be virtually infinite.  How is flashing a few hundred sentences supposed to help?

I think the idea isn't to train yourself to recognize n shapes, where n is the total number of sentences or paragraphs.  I think the idea is to try to train your brain to see patterns rather than a series of words, and to recognize the meaning of the whole pattern rather than each individual word.  The theory being that eventually it will be natural for you to look at whole blocks of text rather than the words which make up that text.  You won't know the meaning of the word-set because you've memorized the pattern previously, you'll know the meaning because your brain has adopted the habit of quickly recognizing the whole rather than the parts.

At least, that's my best guess.

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6 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

My question about sentences and paragraphs is that there are basically an infinite number of permutations that sentences come in.  I can write one sentence.  I can write 100 sentences.  But with a combination of 30,000 words at my disposal, the number of sentences that I'd have to put together to make this methodology at all useful would be virtually infinite.  How is flashing a few hundred sentences supposed to help?

Did you need to memorize an infinite lookup table of every possible mathematical operation on every possible number in order to be able to do basic arithmetic?  Learn a sample, and work on extrapolating from that.

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4 minutes ago, zil said:

I think the idea isn't to train yourself to recognize n shapes, where n is the total number of sentences or paragraphs.  I think the idea is to try to train your brain to see patterns rather than a series of words, and to recognize the meaning of the whole pattern rather than each individual word.  The theory being that eventually it will be natural for you to look at whole blocks of text rather than the words which make up that text.  You won't know the meaning of the word-set because you've memorized the pattern previously, you'll know the meaning because your brain has adopted the habit of quickly recognizing the whole rather than the parts.

At least, that's my best guess.

If that's the intent, then I KNOW it won't work.  I've never been able to do that with individual words.  I don't fathom any way to do that with sentences.

I learned as Vort described.  I learned the phonetic nature of letters, then words.  Phonetics indicates some letter combinations for some sounds that are common patterns.  Key word: Common.

Based on those phonetics, I was able to sound out individual words until I was able to recognize the words on sight.  Other words, I have to sound out very slowly until I can do it fast.  If it's not a word I recognize, I go back to the phonetics and repeat until I "learn" the word.  And yes, in my several decades on this planet, I've gone through this process to amass a 30,000+ word vocabulary.  But it was all by repetition.  I've never been able to create a new pronunciation by sight reading.  

I'd then imagine that even with some efficiency for reading well, the combinations are still simply too great.  I'd be generous to say I could "recognize"  60,000 sentences in the next couple decades.  That doesn't even make a dent in the possibly 22 nonillion combinations or probably 10 nonillion permutations that said sentences would come in.

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11 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

Based on those phonetics, I was able to sound out individual words until I was able to recognize the words on sight.  Other words, I have to sound out very slowly until I can do it fast.  If it's not a word I recognize, I go back to the phonetics and repeat until I "learn" the word.

Interesting.  Try pronouncing the word backwards starting from the end and working backwards, but with just the last one letter, then the last two, etc.  Phonetics would be:

s

cs

ics

tics

etics

netics

onetics

honetics

Phonetics

(You can just do the ph in one step since you already know it's one sound.)  This is how we learned and taught difficult Russian words.  I find it works fast and well.

As for the other - like I said, I don't think you're memorizing recognition of 60,000 sentences.  You're just learning to recognize more than a word at a time, in an instant.  Whatever sentences you practice with should vary greatly so that you don't memorize them - otherwise, you're just recognizing what you memorized, not trying to decipher rapidly.

But I don't know what I'm talking about - I can't do it, and don't even want to.  If anything, I just want to slow down.  I'm tired of everyone being in a hurry, wanting to do / have more.  I'm thinking slow everything might have more virtues.  But if you give it a go (whatever it is), I wish you luck.

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