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July 21, 2019

If information processing theory attempts to articulate the unobservable (Tracey and Morrow, 2012), then it is relevant to explore, with the development of scanning technology, what is observable in the brain when reading occurs.  This is particularly relevant if we reject the concept that reading is a natural and inherent process that can be discovered in much the same manner that humans develop language fluency....

June 25, 2019

The evolution of oppositional thumbs and an erect stature have been fundamental developments in mankind, but when the ancients suggested that “speech is the difference of man” they were highlighting the one dominant factor that separates homo sapiens from the rest of the animal kingdom; the quantum leap performed by humankind that truly divorces man from beast: language (McLuhan and Logan, 1977).

This ability to communicate speci...

June 23, 2019

The point of mastering the procedural knowledge of decoding text, recoding text, practicing decoding to facilitate the word superiority effect (Reicher, 1969) to ensure decoding automaticity and the further practice and knowledge and vocabulary harvesting that permits reading fluency is to be able to understand the meaning that an author wishes to communicate.  Reading fluency gifts the working memory the release of capacity to...

June 2, 2019

For reading to be fluent it must be accurate, at a reasonable rate and prosodic (Kuhn and Stahl, 2003).  Accuracy and speed pertain to decoding automaticity and the word superiority effect (Reicher, 1969 – more here) but prosody (the ability to make oral reading sound like authentic oral speech (Rasinski et al., 2011)) is more nuanced and demanding to identify.

Prosody focuses on the features of speech that are layered...

May 4, 2019

With a quarter of ten and eleven year-olds in England unable to read to the expected standard (DfE, 2018), and with the majority of those children now having had phonics instruction for two years of their initial schooling perhaps Glazzard (2017) is correct when he asserts that if a child has received phonics instruction from aged five to seven and is still struggling to read then more phonics instruction is irrational; somethin...

April 17, 2019

Systematic phonics instruction has been described as the nearest thing to a silver bullet for the development of literacy.  With all the economic and social ills associated with illiteracy (detailed here), it would be a brave person who would deny the weight of research in its favour.  There remains considerable resistance to this form of instruction from the teaching profession (detailed here) but also a number of high-profile...

April 7, 2019

‘The question for teachers is no longer “look and say” or phonics. Instead, the question is which phonics programmes are most effective…’ (Gibb, 2018). The English Schools’ Minister’s assertion that the reading wars have been won by the relentless barrage of research undermining ‘look and say’ approaches may not be strictly true – the rear-guard anti-phonics battles being fought in Australia by academics, the pervasiveness of ‘B...

March 17, 2019

Phonics is certainly fundamental to reading fluency but there seems to be a missing link.

Children learn how to read fluently at different rates and with differing levels of difficulty (Snowling and Hume, 2005) and while some attain fluency relatively easily, others encounter complications and struggle to attain the ability to decode swiftly and automatically.  Although the research into the importance of phonological processing...

February 24, 2019

Whilst Smith and Goodman were condemning millions of children to illiteracy - 60% of Californian nine and ten-year olds taught by their whole language methods over seven years were unable to gain an even superficial understanding of their books (Turner and Burkard, 1996) – two US academics were researching the use of an analytical algorithm to assess which reading interventions struggling readers required.  Gough and Tumner (198...

February 20, 2019


In April 1967, Kenneth Goodman presented his landmark paper at the American Educational Research Association.  ‘Reading: A Psycholinguistic Guessing Game’ (Goodman, 1967) was the culmination of five years of research and took the world of reading instruction by storm.  It has been reprinted in eight anthologies, is his most widely cited work and stimulated myriad of research into similar models of reading.  The aftershocks for...

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