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Reading: cracking the code. Reading: cracking the code. Written words are a code: Visual symbols = elements of speech 人 = ‘man’ in Chinese Σ = the sound ‘s’ in Greek Reading is about cracking the code. Reading: cracking the code. Two ways of coding words:

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reading cracking the code1
Reading: cracking the code

Written words are a code:

Visual symbols = elements of speech

人 = ‘man’ in Chinese

Σ = the sound ‘s’ in Greek

Reading is about cracking the code

reading cracking the code2
Reading: cracking the code
  • Two ways of coding words:
    • Logographic (symbol = word/syllable)
      • Eg Ancient Egyptian, modern Chinese
    • Alphabetic (symbol = sound)
      • Eg: Ancient Phoenician, Arabic, modern European language
reading cracking the code3
Reading: cracking the code

Two ways to decode text:

  • By

木 = ‘tree’

山 = mountain

  • Used more for logographic scripts
    • Harder to learn but easier to read once you know what each logogram means
  • By
  • You read by sounding out the symbol
  • Used more for alphabetic scripts
how do we read
How do we read?
  • Reading involves three areas on the left side of the brain
  • All three areas of the brain should be working together at the same time when we read
how do we read1
How do we read?

Green area

(inferior frontal gyrus)

Starts process of recognising individual letters or groups of letters that represent different sounds (phonemes)

  • eg T stands for the sound ‘t

This is where we sound out words

  • in our head or
  • out loud
how do we read2
How do we read?

Pink area

(parieto-temporal region)

Word analyser

  • Pulls the words apart even more
  • Breaks words down into syllables and individual sounds

Eg Ti – ger T - i – g - er

how do we read3
How do we read?

Yellow area

(occipito-temporal area)

Automatic word detector

  • Recognises word forms without having to sound them out
  • If this is working well, we can glide through print without hesitation
reading difficulties
Reading difficulties
  • Dyslexia means difficulty with words:
    • Dys comes from the Greek word for difficulty
    • Lexia comes from the Greek word for word
  • Dyslexia is an information processing difference probably hard-wired into brain from birth.
  • 5 – 10% of the school population are dyslexic
  • There are two types of dyslexia:
    • Visual dyslexia
    • Sound (auditory) dyslexia
visual dyslexics
Visual dyslexics
  • Words blur, move or disappear . . .

. . . . like this

  • Find it difficult to read groups of words
    • may see only half a word at a time 
    • unable to skim or scan well
  • Find it difficult to judge distances
    • Poor at ball sports or driving
  • Suffer from tiredness, headaches, irritability
  • Cells in mid-brain region are not processing visual information from eyes correctly
visual dyslexia
Visual dyslexia
  • Visual dyslexics are highly sensitive to certain light frequencies:
    • Glare from white paper, bright lights, computer screens
  • Special coloured lenses can help the problem

Boy copying sentence without lenses

Boy copying sentence with coloured lenses

  • Different coloured paper can sometimes help too
auditory sound dyslexia
Auditory (sound) dyslexia

Most dyslexic people:

  • Have difficulty activating:
    • pink (word analysis) area
    • yellow (automatic word recognition) area
  • Rely more on:
    • green(sounding out) area
  • and right side of brain
    • shape of word
    • context – making imaginative guesses
    • picture clues
famous people with dyslexia
Famous people with dyslexia

Dyslexia is not related to intelligence

Dyslexic people are not lazy

  • Albert Einstein
  • Michael Faraday
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Richard Branson
  • Henry Ford
  • Ann Bancroft

(Polar explorer)

  • Bill Gates
  • Hans Christian Anderson
  • Walt Disney
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Jackie Stewart
  • Jamie Oliver
improving decoding skills
Improving decoding skills
  • English uses over 1 million words
    • Remembering each whole word by how it looks is very difficult
  • Modern English has just over 40 different sound elements (phonemes):
    • 25 consonants
    • 15+ vowel sound
improving decoding skills1
Improving decoding skills

Practise these skills:

  • Breaking spoken words down into their different sounds

Recent brain research shows you need to be able to sound out words to read alphabetical languages

      • Say tongue-twisters
      • Talk to each other in Pig Latin

alktay otay eachyay otheryay inyay igpay atinlay


  • Play Hink Pink

What is a plate for tuna? A fish dish!

Name a small, stinging insect. A wee bee!

  • Sing songs and rhymes with younger children to tune your ear to the different sounds of spoken language
improving decoding skills2
Improving decoding skills

Practise these skills:

  • Recognising letters and blends used to code each sound (phonics)

Help younger children learn to read

Going back to basic phonics will improve your own ability to recognise the different letters and blends that make up each sound

  • Using knowledge of phonics to break down words into elements of sound

Play word games:

Boggle, Pass the Bomb, Scrabble,

Wordsearches, Hangman