Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ryan reading word cards

Here's a Youtube video (about 3 minutes long) of Ryan reading.

I want to highlight a few very important points here.

Firstly, we did not use these cards to teach Ryan how to read. These are Letterland word cards that are used to play rhyming games ("pen" rhymes with "ten"). Ryan already knew how to read when we bought these cards.

Second and more generally, I do not want to give anyone the impression that we use flashcards to teach reading. We do not. We do not believe that flashcards is the right way to teach reading (plus it is against Shichida principles to use flashcards to teach reading). You can see that I am not flashing the cards at all in the video and I am not trying to teach Ryan anything as I go through the cards. I am moving at Ryan's speed (not at flashing speed) and I am not saying a word. It is not a flashcard exercise at all. I am merely letting Ryan practice his reading. It would have been the same if I had printed all the words out on one sheet of paper.

Third, we are not using the sight word method (like, for example, the Glenn Doman reading method or "Your Baby Can Read" method). No doubt there are some words that Ryan has to read by sight but not in this set of word cards. As I mentioned above, these are Letterland word cards used for rhyming - there are no sight words in the set. In general, and as I have posted before, we do not use the sight word method, which is memory-based. Where the word can be decoded using phonics principles, we want Ryan to do that. We do not want Ryan to "recognise" a word - we want him to learn the skill of reading/decoding the word. (As an aside, I should say that, after reading up extensively on Glenn Doman, we disagree with and do not believe in the Glenn Doman method, which is almost completely opposite to the Shichida Method. I'll write more on that in a separate post.)

Fourth, as you can see from the video, Ryan does read phonetically. When stumped he will go back to first principles, ie. break the word down into letter sounds. This is obvious at 1:53 when I showed him "Firefighter Fred". He starts with the letter sound for "F' and, after decoding "red" in his head, blends the two together, thus decoding the word "Fred" correctly. Another sign that he reads phonetically and not from memory is, sometimes he gets stumped on a word which he has read without problem previously. He just decodes it again. For example, on previous occasions, he read "Firefighter Fred" without any problem but this time, he got stumped. Reading being a skill, he gets better at it with practice, ie. he can decode the word faster with practice.

Lastly, we do not use the Letterland method. Ryan does not know the characters "Firefighter Fred" or "Harry Hat Man" or "Quarrelsome Queen". There are pictures of these characters on the flip side of the cards, but we never look at them.

The purpose of the video is to record Ryan's speed and accuracy with very simple words at this stage. He is already reading more "complicated" words now (not as quickly as he can read the simple words in the video). We are happy to note that Ryan's reading ability has rocketed over the last few months. We do attribute this flight to the fact that we did not use the sight word method or the flashcard method at all to teach him reading (not forgetting our regular story reading time of course).


timmy said...

wow Ryan is making astounding progress, always a joy to hear him read.

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