How to teach yourself to read

This article was co-authored by Soren Rosier, PhD. Soren Rosier is a PhD candidate at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education. He studies how children teach each other and how to train effective peer teachers. Before beginning his PhD, he was a middle school teacher in Oakland, California, and a researcher at SRI International. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University in 2010.

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If you or somebody you know cannot read, you’re not alone. 14 percent of American adults can’t read–that’s 32 million people–and 21% read below a 5th grade level. The good news is, it’s never too late to learn how to read. This article can help you or someone close to you develop their skills as a reader.

How to teach yourself to read

How to teach yourself to read

How to teach yourself to read

How to teach yourself to read

How to teach yourself to read

How to teach yourself to read

How to teach yourself to read

Soren Rosier, PhD
Education Researcher Expert Interview. 1 May 2019. For example, when you learn that the letter C sounds like “sa” or “ka” or that “tion” sounds like “shun”, you’re learning phonics.

  • Find an approach that makes sense to you. Phonics is typically taught in one of two ways: by what’s called a see-and-say approach in which you learn to read whole words or a syllable approach in which you learn how to sound out different letter combinations and put them together to form words.
  • To learn phonics, you must hear the sounds of the syllables and/or words. To do that, you need to find an online program, purchase or borrow a DVD from your local library or work with a family member, friend, tutor or instructor who can help you learn the sounds created by various letter combinations and what those look like written out.

How to teach yourself to read

Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.

How to teach yourself to read

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If your toddler or preschooler has started reading books on their own with very little instruction from you—aside from reading to them regularly—you may have a self-taught reader. Self-taught reading, also known as spontaneous reading, is when a child figures out how to read without any formal reading instruction.

This can be a sign of giftedness or of neurodivergence, but not always. Self-taught readers have broken the reading code (the alphabet as a symbol system of sounds and words). But they still need your guidance and encouragement to enjoy a lifetime of reading.

Self-Taught Reading and Giftedness

When learning to read, a child must first realize that letters represent sounds and that together letters represent words. Self-taught readers figure out this symbol system on their own, sometimes with little more to go on than a video or online game about the alphabet or simply being exposed to a lot of books and print.

While it’s not always a sign of giftedness, early reading is one indicator that a child may have advanced language skills. Learning to speak is a natural skill for most children, but learning to read usually has to be taught. That’s why children who learn the relationship between letters, words, and communication very early are sometimes regarded as remarkable.

A reader must be able to remember what they read at the beginning of a sentence before reaching the end of a sentence, as well as what they read at the beginning of a paragraph before reaching the end, and so on.

If a child is reading fluently before the age of 5, it suggests they are advanced, since their brain has reached a sufficient level of maturity for that age range. And, if they taught themselves how to read before receiving formal instruction, the chances are strong that that child is gifted.

Self-Taught Reading and Hyperlexia

Sometimes an early fascination with letters and words can indicate something other than giftedness. Early readers who lack comprehension skills may have hyperlexia. These children excel in recognizing letters, words, and sounds but may not understand what they are reading.

Hyperlexia is often characterized by four features: having advanced reading skills, being a self-taught reader, displaying a strong preference for letters and books, and having an accompanying neuro-developmental disorder.

If you suspect that your self-taught reader may have hyperlexia, talk to your child’s pediatrician. Sometimes hyperlexia can be a sign of autism spectrum disorder (ASD); 84% of kids with hyperlexia are also on the autism spectrum. But only 6% to 14% of kids diagnosed with autism have hyperlexia.

Signs of Hyperlexia

  • Expressive and receptive language deficit
  • Excellent memory
  • Fascination with letters and the alphabet
  • Delayed language skills
  • Echolalia or repeating sounds over and over
  • Difficulty understanding verbal contexts
  • Lack of comprehension skills

How to Support Your Self-Taught Reader

Fostering an interest in books and reading at an early age helps prepare children for future success. Becoming familiar with books and comfortable with the practice of reading is key to encouraging children to read themselves (spontaneously or not).

Some self-taught readers may not enjoy being read to until they have started to break the code. When they realize that letters on a page represent language, they want to be read to in order to learn more about that symbol system.

These children may ask the person reading to them to point to words as they are being read. If they aren’t yet talking, they may grab the reader’s finger and move it to each word as it is being read. If you see these signs in your young child, try to encourage that curiosity about reading and books.

How to Boost Reading Skills

Reading with your child consistently is one of the best ways to promote early reading skills. As you read together, you can support learning by pointing to the words as you read, using different voices for different characters, and asking your child to name what they see in pictures.

You can also invite your child to join in as you read, or repeat phrases after you. Strengthen their vocabulary and comprehension skills by drawing a connection between books and real life, answering your child’s questions about books, and asking your child to tell you what happened in a book. It’s also valuable to continue to read together even after your child learns to read independently.

A Word From Verywell

If your child is reading at a very young age, this does not automatically mean they are gifted or that they have hyperlexia or autism spectrum disorder. But if you have questions or concerns, talk to a healthcare provider. They can evaluate your child and provide a recommendation for additional testing if needed.

In the meantime, continue to support your child’s love for books and reading. Regardless of where their fascination comes from, reading is an important life skill that will benefit your child for years to come. Help build a love of reading and books by giving your child access to books and reading with them often. It is one of the best ways to build a foundation for your child’s future academic endeavors.

How to teach yourself to readAs reading tutors, we know just how important learning to read is. We live in the information age and that statement is truer now than it has ever been. As true as that statement is, have you ever stopped and asked yourself why reading is so important? Or better still, had to explain to your child why?

While we do understand that reading is important it can be a difficult thing to put into words. In the event your son or daughter has questioned why reading is important, we have put together a list of the top reasons to emphasize the importance of reading for your child.

    Reading Develops Important Language Skills

Whether it is books, magazines, or E-books, reading can help cement a child’s language skills. Exposure to language helps a child to further develop their vocabulary in a way that every day conversation cannot. Even at early ages when a child does not understand everything they read, they are able to come to conclusions about new words from the context of material.
Reading Is Especially Necessary With Today’s Technology

Where some thought that the advent of computers would make the reading less important, the exact opposite is true; it has made reading even more important. Gathering information on the web or even communicating via email and social media all require reading and writing. Even texting requires reading and writing skills!
Reading Opens Up The World

Very few of us are world travelers and even those who are can only see so many places in one’s lifetime. Being able to read opens the world up to a child. They can learn about different cultures, histories, and societies. It shows life in a different way, both real and imagined. It can inform about the past, present, and future. In short, reading can take a child to then stars and back without ever leaving their home.
Reading Can Enhance Social Skills

This may sound like a contradiction since much of a person’s reading is done in solitary. Consider this; early in life a child’s reading consists of being read to or going to “story time”. This makes books and reading something to be shared. It builds a relationship with reading. As time goes on and a person does more individual reading it can become a conversation piece much like a popular television show. A person who has just read a great book wants desperately to share the story with someone else. How many times have you read a book and couldn’t wait to lend it to someone else? In addition, being someone who is “well read” is still a positive attribute in society as it often implies increased intelligence, being better cultured, and having a more interesting background for debates and conversations.
Reading is Fun!

Like a good movie, a book can be loads of fun. You can get whisked off to a world of wizards or trek through the galaxy on a spacecraft. Regardless of your child’s interests, reading can be a great past time.

These are just a few reasons why reading is so vital to children. It is important to nurture your children’s reading and seek them the help they need if they show signs of struggling.

If your child is one of the many who have a hard time with reading, now is the time to act. Don’t wait until they are lost. The Reading Clinic offers a variety of approaches to help your child get back on track. Our reading tutors are the best in the business and will work with your child every step of the way.

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Publisher’s Summary

Teach Yourself to Read Hebrew Audio Companion is a complete self-study course for the adult beginner. Ten lessons guide you through the basics of decoding the aleph bet (alphabet). This audio companion insures proper Sephardic pronunciation.

  • Introduces a series of letters
  • Reviews material presented in previous chapters
  • Includes excursuses that highlight newly learned letters
  • Provides ample reading practice of letter combinations
  • Builds a basic vocabulary of common Hebrew words

What listeners say about Teach Yourself to Read Hebrew

Reviews – Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Audible.ca reviews

Audible.com reviews

Amazon Reviews

  • Ruth Blanch
  • 2021-01-27

hard to learn

I was hoping to be able to teach myself to read but the audio it’s asking to have a book in front of you in order to turn pages to follow the audio, and in absence of such a book it’s impossible to follow.

1 person found this helpful

  • Robert
  • 2020-05-11

Missing the PDF

How can we learn to read Hebrew if there is no reference to the letters; there should be a PDF with this audio book.
I gave this a higher rating because, if it had a PDF, it would be very good

1 person found this helpful

  • ShaidsOfGrey
  • 2017-04-27

Outstanding introduction to Hebrew

I was looking for a concise and logical introduction to basic Hebrew before beginning my first year in Seminary. This is just the course! The lessons are brief, well thought out and progressive. You find yourself learning the Hebrew alphabet, pronunciation, and block printing almost without realizing it. There’s nothing easy about learning a language, and Hebrew is no exception. But this has to be one of the most most enjoyable experiences I’ve had. To get the most out of your investment in time, the student should purchase both the book and the audible companion. I am now moving on to the follow up in the series: The First Hebrew Primer, Third Addition. What a joy!

4 people found this helpful

  • Rob A
  • 2020-04-27

audio only

the audio only format does not make this kind of teaching worth your time

3 people found this helpful

  • William
  • 2016-09-08

For me the best way to learn Hebrew

What did you love best about Teach Yourself to Read Hebrew?

I have had individuals try to teach me to learn to read Hebrew and found that they really had any idea as to what was involved. Right out of gate this book from the beginning it starts with the basics of Hebrew in the first chapter. I learn more in the first chapter than what others thought they new.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I will progress through all 10 chapters and move into the next book called “The First Hebrew Primer third edition by the authors Simon, Renikoff, and Motzkin.

Have you listened to any of Cantor Bruce Benson and Alisse Seelig ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, I haven’t but enjoy the presentation that is with the audio portion that is available with this book through Amazon.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This is a book that teaches the basics on how to read Hebrew and as for me I experience great joy to finally begin to understand what the Hebrew language has to offer.

How to teach yourself to read

The Simple View of Reading

Learning to read consists of developing skills in two critical areas: (1) Reading each word in texts accurately and fluently and (2) Comprehending the meaning of texts being read. This is known as the Simple View of Reading.

To read words accurately and fluently, students need strategies to read words they have never seen before in print as well as words they have previously encountered. To understand the meaning of texts, students must have sufficient language comprehension skills. For example, if a text says, “the little dog barked at the big cat,” a proficient reader must be able to read each word accurately and also know what the words mean in this specific sentence.

Learning these skills does not come naturally. Both accurate word reading and text comprehension require careful, systematic instruction. And, once formal reading instruction begins in school, instruction in both of these areas should occur on a daily basis.

Accurate, Fluent Reading

Reading words accurately is complex: it requires the integration of visual, auditory, and cognitive skills. For example, reading the word “cat” accurately in print requires the following:

  • Seeing each letter (three different letters in “cat”—visual acuity);
  • Producing the sound each letter makes (in “cat,” each letter makes a distinct sound—auditory perception);
  • Putting the individual sounds together to pronounce the word (the three sounds are put together quickly to produce “cat”—a cognitive skill).

Fluency improves as students become familiar with seeing the same words in print over and over. They begin to recognize these words automatically and can pronounce them quickly and easily.

Reading words accurately with increased fluency helps set the stage for figuring out what the text means. Reading “dig” for “dog” or “baked” for “barked,” or not having any idea how to accurately read or decode these words hinders comprehension.

Comprehending the Meaning of Text

To understand the example sentence about “dogs and cats,” students must know what dogs and cats are. They must know what “bark” means and understand that “little” and “big” refer to size concepts.

Background knowledge also assists comprehension. Understanding will be improved if students know something about why a dog might bark at a cat (which the sentence does not say explicitly). Students might also sense the irony of a little dog barking at a big cat.

Conclusion

Reading involves a complex integration of skills. Proficient readers seem to make the process look effortless, but reading instruction for all students requires systematic instruction in both word reading and comprehension. For students in the early stages of reading, or for those who struggle, reading is particularly difficult and requires careful instruction and intervention. Problem areas must be determined, and instruction and intervention to address these areas must be carefully planned and delivered.

Infographic

Suggested Citation

Baker, S.K., Fien, F., Nelson, N. J., Petscher, Y., Sayko, S., & Turtura, J. (2017). Learning to read: “The simple view of reading”. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Special Education Programs, National Center on Improving Literacy. Retrieved from http://improvingliteracy.org

References

Adams, M.J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Gough, P.B. & Tunmer, W.E. (1986). Decoding, reading, and reading disability. Remedial and Special Education, 7, 6-10.

National Reading Panel (U.S.), & National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (U.S.). (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching children to read : an evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction: reports of the subgroups. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.

Snow, C.E., Burns, M.S., & Griffin, P. (eds.) (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Abstract

Learning to read consists of developing skills in two areas: accurate, fluent reading and comprehending the meaning of texts. Learning these skills does not come naturally. Both accurate word reading and text comprehension require careful, systematic instruction.

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I have gone through several books for teaching beginning Hebrew, This one has been the best so far.

Here are some of my reasons:

1) the author takes the students through the alphabet consecutively rather than randomly. 2) there is a strong emphasis on learning how to write block letters. I wish the cursive letters were included. 3) the Hebrew used is prayer book focused rather than Scripture based. I was not too pleased that nothing from the Tenach was no,used other than biblical words, but not p I have gone through several books for teaching beginning Hebrew, This one has been the best so far.

Here are some of my reasons:

1) the author takes the students through the alphabet consecutively rather than randomly. 2) there is a strong emphasis on learning how to write block letters. I wish the cursive letters were included. 3) the Hebrew used is prayer book focused rather than Scripture based. I was not too pleased that nothing from the Tenach was no,used other than biblical words, but not passages. At the end of the book, the student is asked to read the Kaddish which is not Hebrew but Aramaic(very close to reading Biblical Hebrew). 4) the last chapter focuses on reading long Hebrew words. Other Hebrew primers only provide two or three syllable words.

So far I would recommend this Hebrew primer over anything else I read. Again, I am assuming the student has no exposure to Hebrew and wants to jump in feet first from right to left. . more

How to teach yourself to read

Learning to read is an exciting time for children and their families. For many parents, helping their child learning to read established a pattern for their involvement in their child’s academic education.

Parents can help their children with the reading process by providing high-quality educational materials, establishing a pattern of daily reading, instructing through guided reading activity, creating a rich language environment, discussing a child’s progress with teachers, and following up on their recommendations.

Time4Learning teaches reading as part of our comprehensive language arts curriculum. Animated characters present the lessons, giving your child the means to engage the material, not just read it.

Below, you’ll find a few important tips to help your child learn to read.

Be Involved and Patient

Learning to read is the culmination of a great many learned skills and developmental processes. Learning to read is a long-term program. At times, there is no visible progress. At other times, they make dramatic daily progress. In all cases, show patience, confidence, and be encouraging of new skills.

Learn About Learning to Read

Just as children start with tee ball before playing baseball, there are specific steps in learning to read. Trying to teach the steps out of sequence can inadvertently frustrate your child (and you). For instance, prior to successfully learning phonics, the child should master a set of pre-reading skills including understanding basic print concepts, discerning the sounds, understanding that words are made up of sounds which they need to think about as interchangeable parts, and memorizing the alphabet. To help parents understand the steps in learning to read, Time4Learning has developed the Reading Skills Pyramid. And while most children do follow this sequence, be aware that each child is different and that there are a great number of variations.

Learning to Read is Multimodal

Learning to read is easiest if you involve all the children’s learning styles and modalities. They should see the words on wall posters, have toys in the shapes of letters to play with, being drawing them, playing games with them on the computer, and of course, seeing them in books. Each of these different activities helps develop prereading skills. The Time4Learning language arts program can serve as the core or supplementary curriculum for children learning to read. Learn more about how Time4Learning’s online program can help your children’s education.

Build Reading Skills – One Section in the Reading Skills Pyramid

The Reading Skills Pyramid illustrates that there are many steps to becoming a proficient reader. Generally, the skills can be split into two halves: one half is word decoding which is made up of phonemic awareness, phonics. The other half is made up of a set of skills that falls into three categories: comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency.

How to teach yourself to read

Order a printed wall copy of the Reading Skills Pyramid.

There’s no better superfood for your brain than a book.

Reading is the best way to rapidly gain a deep, and broad understanding of a topic or discipline.

You can read an entire book every day, but it will cost you. It’s a massive goal and can be unreasonable, but it works for me.

I am selective about the books I choose to speed read. I look out for the most important ideas in each book. Ideas that can advance my long-term goals.

I don’t read when I am “in the mood” because that’s unpredictable. I read everywhere when I have even five minutes. It’s super convenient to pull out my phone (I keep it in airplane mode and avoid all notifications) and read a paragraph or two when I can.

Some books can be read just once, providing instant gratification, and then you feel you can pass them on to somebody else. Others will require more from you. The question is, how much are you willing to put into them?

Whether you are looking to improve yourself or learn something new, it’s possible to read a book in a single day.

Patrick Allan of Lifehacker explains why reading a book every day is a realistic goal, if you are prepared to put in the hours:

“Reading an entire book in a matter of hours may seem daunting, but it all comes down to simple math. The average adult reads around 200–400 words per minute. The average novel ranges between 60,000 and 100,000 words total. If your reading speed is right in the middle of the pack at 300 words per minute, and you’re reading a middle-of-the-pack novel at around 80,000 words, you’ll be able to knock it out in around five hours or less.”

If you like to read, odds are you’ve got a stack of books you’ve been meaning to get to, but haven’t been able to find the time. But, starting today, you can change your reading habit.

When you aim to understand an author, it won’t take you too long to read an entire book. Understanding a book is the best way to read it quickly.

Many nonfiction authors make a point and ask us to learn from them. Once you know and understand the author’s message, you will be able to read it faster, learn from it and move on to the next one.

Sir Francis Bacon once said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

Don’t read all your books with the same mindset

Choose books with purpose for speed reading. You can’t use any book for this purpose.

Enjoying books is no different than enjoying a TV show or a movie. If you don’t like a show, you won’t waste your time starting it in the first place. If you want to give it a chance, you will try watching the first episode. If you don’t really like a book, you will stop reading it and start read something else.

Reading a book should be an experience that provides you joy and value, not something to labor through. It’s important you select your book carefully.

Find a reason to read. It could be self-improvement, better utilization of time, learning things, improving your career etc.

Use your peripheral vision

Learn to speed read.

Using your peripheral vision allows you to read with fewer eye fixations because your vision span is wider and you can see, read, and process more words at a time.

When you use your peripheral vision to read, you look in the space between two words instead of looking the specific word, trying to read both words and then moving your eyes to the next pair of words.

Michael Benninger of Blinklist explains:

“To achieve true mastery of reading, make the most of your peripheral vision. Strengthen this skill by quickly glancing at phrases then attempting to recite them. The indenting method builds off this by suggesting readers aim their eyes on the center of a line of text, without focusing on words within a half inch of either margin.”

Read in clumps. A clump is a collection of four to 16 adjacent words that you read in a single glance. When you read in clumps, you naturally increase your speed because you can’t slow down to vocalize (speak or hear the words as you read them).

Location is everything

Once you’ve taught yourself to speed read at a decent pace, and have some books you want to work through, you need an ideal reading environment. Distraction is everywhere.

Separate yourself from everything that distracts you. Think of how much solitude you’ll need, then double it. Go somewhere that can guarantee the solitude you want, and use headphones, if you have to. Listen to white noise. It will help you keep focused, and read little faster.

If you’re really short on time, and sitting isn’t an option, you can choose an audiobook. You can read for a couple of hours, download the audiobook and listen to it while you drive, shop, on break, do house chores, or when exercising. You can always return to your book once you have everything done.

Use every moment

If you have a commute, use it. If you have a lunch break, use that.

Waiting in line? Read.

Eliminate one hour of television a day if you have to. The long-term benefits cannot be compared with the short-term pleasure of daily distractions.

Read/skim chapters

This advice from Peter Bregman has made a lot of difference for me.

He originally shared it on HBR. The entire post is worth a read:

“Read the title and anywhere from the first few paragraphs to the first few pages of the chapter to figure out how the author is using this chapter and where it fits into the argument of the book. Then skim through the headings and subheadings (if there are any) to get a feel for the flow. Read the first sentence of each paragraph and the last. If you get the meaning, move on. Otherwise, you may want to read the whole paragraph. Once you’ve gotten an understanding of the chapter, you may be able to skim over whole pages, as the argument may be clear to you and also may repeat itself.”

This advice will not work for fiction books but for others that seek to get an idea or argument across to readers, you can apply it.

Take notes

When you intend to burn through a book in a single day, you’ll naturally forget things. Have a way to take notes!

Taking notes along the way is very helpful, or alternatively stay active by highlighting passages.

Start slowly

You don’t have to finish a book every day, but if you are keen to significantly improve how you read, start slowly.

Don’t be too harsh on yourself if you can’t read an entire book in a single day. It takes practice. Pick up something you can relate to or enjoy, and then explore and experiment. That will motivate you to read tomorrow and beyond.

Now grab the book you want to read and go to town.

This post originally appeared at Medium.

How to teach yourself to read

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You don’t have to be a reading teacher; you don’t have to be a college graduate; you don’t even have to be a high school graduate! Anyone can do this. And you don’t have to spend a fortune to teach yourself or someone else to read and spell!

Purchasing our online license is equivalent to hiring a full-time reading specialist to work one-to-one with yourself, your child, or any group of students at any time of the day, every day of the week, for the entire year!

The English language is predictable; there does exist an underlying set of rules, and by systematically learning and applying these rules virtually anyone can learn to read and spell successfully!

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Our online program offers the following advantages:

1. A parent, teacher or tutor can implement our program without previous and expensive training. Parents can help their child learn to read and spell even if the parent has not gone to college. One does not have to be a reading specialist to teach a student to read and spell!
2. An adult can teach himself to read and spell on his own without a teacher or tutor.
3. Adults learn to read in the privacy of their own homes; parents teach their children at home.
4. Our entire program is accessible online and does not require prior training to implement.
5. Our online program teaches phonics and spelling with multisensory, step-by-step, direct instruction.

Mr. Williams, please post this note on your website. I want everyone to know that your product is the truth. It is foolproof.

I contacted you about ten years ago to thank you for the helpful books I had purchased from your website. I had just begun to tutor students in my neighborhood and friends’ children. In three months, I used your program to help a second-language learner escape grade retention. In another three months, I taught reading to a 5th grader who had no phonemic awareness, taking him from kindergarten level to 4th grade. No one had been able to help him, even though he had attended the same school since kindergarten. And, now I am using your program to help a fifth grader with higher-order phonics trouble that impacts his ability to adapt to new vocabulary. My twin nephews who were born at just under 2 pounds each have used your program and are fluent readers today. Indeed, it works!

You are correct in that schools, in general, do not teach phonics past the second grade, if they teach it at all. And, most families scramble to find the money to pay for Orton-Gillingham instructors. However, your books address the issues immediately. Within just one lesson and nightly reading of your worksheets for homework, a student can begin to survive in class. I’ve even taught an adult to read through this program.

Parents should trust your website program, especially if they feel intimidated by using your books on their own. Every reading teacher should have your worksheets available in their class for daily support–your books are just that universally beneficial. You are a godsend, and your program is just that perfect. As a professional tutor of many subjects for children through adults, I reach consistently for nothing but your program for reading support.

It is obvious you have given us your heart with this work, and I thank you!

Sharron Stephens
PhD candidate in Educational Theory and Practice / University of Georgia

By Francesca Segrè Oct 10, 2014

How to teach yourself to read

Flickr user Vimages

There are tons of apps and web-based programs that help kids learn to read, but precious few to help low-literacy adults. And it’s not due to a lack of need: One of every six adults in America–36 million people–struggle with reading and comprehension, and federal funding for adult education has plummeted 20% over the past decade.

So how do you use tech to teach reading to adults who can’t? How can design help adult learners develop skills to get better jobs? EdSurge asked adult digital education experts what they’ve discovered. Here’s what we found out:

1. Design for adults, not children

“We can’t treat them like kids,” says Matt Robinson, director of distance learning at Goodwill Community Foundation Learn Free. So, no butterflies and flowers. Instead, GCFLearnFree, which has 10 million users annually, uses original art that’s made for adults, like this grocery store scene.

2. Make it pertinent to their lives

Adult learners are trying to build skills to get a better job, so designing for their real-life challenges and ambitions is key. In educational circles, it’s is called “contextualization.” This creative job application tutorial from GCFLearnFree gives students practical experience filling out forms.

3. Respect their time

“Adult learners tend to have busy lives,” says Robinson, and often “have less time” than many other adults. So GCFLearnFree tries to keep learners engaged longer when concepts require more concentration, but cuts them loose early when an idea is quick to comprehend. And, in the interests of respecting a learner’s limited time, Robinson says, “You need to give them a user interface that works really well, that’s clean, that shows the intent, that keeps people from getting stuck or confused.”

4. Inject humor

Adult learners can be apprehensive about working on computers–but as Robinson says, “humor helps break down barriers of fear.” The GCFLearnFree team has made reading comprehension texts funny, when possible, and added humorous graphics (like this line drawing of George Washington on a laptop) that can help relax the learner and keep him or her coming back.

5. Use all available tools

People are responsive to different kinds of teaching, so GCFLearnFree uses video, sound, art, storytelling, icons and text–often all of the above–to help reinforce a concept and make it memorable. This is one funny video (combining Tips 4 and 5!) that teaches the difference between the words “literally and figuratively.”

6. Talk back to the critical internal dialogue

Adult learners can be hard on themselves! They often have a critical internal narrative that pops up when they encounter a hard academic problem, says David Goldberg of Core Skills Mastery. “They’ll often put down their pencil and tell themselves, ‘I can’t do this because I’m not smart enough, or they never taught me, or worse, they taught me and I forgot it,’” he explains. All too often, this “learned helplessness” leads a student to give up.

To redirect this mindset, Core Skills Mastery shows each student encouraging data, like this pop-up which says, “only 40% of all adults and 70% of 4-year college graduates can complete this skill.” Ideally, the data will prompt students to realize that they are not alone, they are not stupid, and that the problem is hard for most people. Goldberg says that with the right encouragement, the internal narrative can then change to, “If I spend 5 minutes on it, I can learn it, and then I can do a fist pump because I can do a skill most people can’t.”

7. Praise the effort and the process, not the skill achieved

Instead of showing simple green checkmarks for skills achieved or red “x” marks for incorrect answers, adult learning sites should “be specific in encouraging the behaviors–like persistence, confidence and self-reliance–that give rise to success,” says Goldberg of Core Skills Mastery. “It parallels best practices in parenthood and teaching.”

One way CSM encourages persistence is by temporarily guiding students to an easier problem set when they are struggling with a hard problem. This way, Goldberg says, the student will regain confidence and return to the tough problem with more grit.

8. Make the text adaptable

Adult learners may not be native English speakers or may have trouble seeing words on a screen. Dr. Jill Castek, part of the Portland State University development team of LearnerWeb recommends features that allow for simultaneous translation and font adjustments, enabling easier reading.

9. Build for the tech they have

Lots of adult learners have phones, but they don’t necessarily have laptops or computers. Gabe Martinez Cabrera, a program manager of Adult Education Initiatives at Digital Promise says, “Embrace the tech they have, don’t build for what they don’t. Adult students are often mobile but [without access to] Wifi.”

10. Make it social

The best adult learning programs build in social support with other real people. “A program where adult learners can interact with other people supports engagement,” says Dr. Castek. “We believe live and in-person connections are especially important with adult learners.” Or as Cabrera of Digital Promise says, “Use tech to the limit, then use people when tech falls short.”

How to teach yourself to read

(detail of miniature from British Library, Royal 17 E III, f. 36)

Introduction

There are a variety of very good editions of Chaucer in print, each with useful introductory material about the language of Chaucer’s day, its grammar, and its rules of syntax (especially as they differ from our own).

The Penguin editions of Chaucer’s major works are careful and scholarly but also ideal for students:

  • Geoffrey Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales. ed. Jill Mann. London: Penguin, 2005.
  • Geoffrey Chaucer. Troilus & Criseyde. ed. Barry Windeatt. London: Penguin, 2003.

The Oxford Chaucer (eds. Christopher Cannon and James Simpson, Oxford: OUP, 2022) contains all of Chaucer’s known works, and provides a great deal of introductory material for a reader coming to Chaucer for the first time, as well as careful glossing of difficult vocabulary on each page.

Of the translations of Chaucer available in print and online, many are accurate; some are deft and elegant. But Chaucer’s Middle English is close enough to our own language that it is worth taking the time to learn the basics. The greatest challenge is learning to recognize a small number of common but different words and spellings that were, as yet, unstandardized in the forms we know them. Chaucer’s poetry often depends on the conventions of Middle English for its effects, not only in the experience of its unique rhythms, but for its meanings. Underneath every line of Chaucer is a subtle wit, inherent to his affection for, and mastery of, the double meaning. Translation inevitably deadens much of this friction, and, with it, the kinds of enjoyment characteristic of Chaucer’s wisdom.

Competency in reading is one of the greatest predictors of success in children. But in order to procure the benefits, students must be motivated to learn to read. Here are the best ways for kids to learn to read backed by research.

One of my most painful childhood memories is learning how to read at school.

The teacher would call one student into the hallway at a time.

Every day, I prayed that my name wouldn’t be called. I didn’t want to leave the comfort of my brightly lit classroom to be tested.

My stomach flip-flopped and my hands got clammy. When the teacher called my name, I did my best to appear calm though my knees felt like they were going to buckle. I mustered everything in me to make the walk out of my classroom into the hallway.

I was moments away from all my shortcomings being exposed.

A parent volunteer always sat across from me. She would motion to the books beside her. I never knew what to choose because the pile always changed. I desperately hoped I would land on the shortest one. No matter my choice, the pages and words were ended up being too long.

As soon as I had a book, there was a click of the tape recorder. It was my signal to start. The pressure of knowing I would have to playback my poor reading sent shockwaves of fear through my little body.

I was petrified of making a mistake. But I was struggling to learn to read, my mistakes were inevitable.

Shaking, I stumbled through the words on the page.

“Sound it out,” the volunteer would say.

But I had to sound out every syllable of every word. As I stammered my way through each word, I became more and more aware I was taking longer than any of my peers. My friends clutched their audiotapes with pride. They were reading novels.

I was struggling to learn to read.

Why should we care about children’s love of reading?

While there are a number of obvious benefits to reading, there are also some less obvious ones too. Of course, the more children read, the more they learn. Reading leads to more elaborate vocabulary (1). Research has also found that ability and regularity of reading predict lifelong academic success. Not only that but the single greatest predictor of school dropout is reading below grade level (2).

The good news is that regardless of the trajectory a child is on with respect to reading, there is a lot that can be done to build her early literacy skills and even develop a lifelong love of reading.

This is how I learned to read and love it too.

Summers came and I was able to escape the threat of that black tape recorder and the archive of all my reading mistakes.

On scorching hot days, my mom would throw a laundry hamper into the trunk of her navy blue Honda. Then, we would head out to the reprieve of the air-conditioned library.

There, we could load up on as many books as we wanted.

She never said no to reading to us. She worked on our sounds (phonics) in the context of the books we loved. Or, she would put out magnets for us to manipulate and make our own words with.

It took a while, but slowly I began to learn to read well.

My love of reading most certainly came from my mom’s fun and natural approach. Though my mom’s way of teaching me to read was the result of her own love of literature, it is also her profession. At the time she was both teaching me how to read and instilling a love of reading in me, she was a teacher. She went on to be a school principal and now teaches a university course on literacy. I asked her for her best tips for kids to learn to read based on research and the best practices being taught to teachers.

How to teach yourself to read

Experts say this is the best way for kids to learn to read

These apply to teaching your child to read, but many can be applied to teaching students to read in the context of a classroom.

1. Start reading to your child as a baby and continue reading often.

Not only does reading help young children expand their vocabulary, it also teaches them the most basic rules of early literacy. For example, infants as young as nine months can learn how to turn pages in the proper order. Around the age of one, toddlers begin learning how to track words from left to right. These are important skills for the development of literacy.

2. Read books and sing songs that rhyme.

Research shows that four and five-year-olds who are well-versed in rhymes have greater phonological awareness, greater vocabulary and better reading outcomes (3).

3. Have books and other literacy mediums out for easy access.

When kids can easily access books, they read more. Also, it is great to have magnetic letters, an alphabet puzzle or two, and mediums to write on available.

4. Teach kids phonics in context.

Find ways to teach children the connection between letters and sounds. It is helpful having different mediums for kids to manipulate and play with words (like the puzzles, writing materials, and magnet). Sing songs about sounds. Have them sound out words as they read and write. All of these give the chance to learn the association between phonics and words in ways that make sense.

5. Build feelings of competency.

One of the biggest reasons children lose their love of reading is because they see themselves as less competent when compared to their peers. Some children can learn a word with one exposure while others take as many as 20 times before learning a word (3). When learning to read, children use pictures, phonics, and/or context to decode words. All are valid ways for reading to develop. If a child does better using one over the other lean into that as she starts to read. When children want to quit, use the power of yet. Remind them they may not have mastered reading yet, but it will come.

6. Ask questions about what’s being read.

The most important purpose of reading is to understand what is being read. As you read together, ask your child questions like:

  • what do you think might happen next?
  • how do you think the characters feel?
  • what’s your favourite part so far?

7. Avoid the use of extrinsic motivators such as sticker charts or other ways of rewarding reading.

Research shows that when extrinsic motivators are used to promote desirable behaviour, children become less motivated to do the given behaviour.

8. Model your own love of reading.

Modelling is one of the strongest means to promote any behaviour in children. When kids see us read for pleasure, they will be more inclined to become lifelong readers too.

9. Promote intrinsic motivation.

The greatest predictor of children developing a lifelong love of reading is high intrinsic (internal) motivation. Research shows in the context of reading, it must be:

  • relevant – is it fun?
  • independent – can I choose what I read?
  • promote self-efficacy (feelings of success) – can I read it without a lot of struggle?
  • promote mastery – can I learn new things?

The best way to learn to read – a final note

My mom’s approach changed the course of my feelings about reading. As a result of her modelling, allowing me to read what I wanted to read, and regular trips to the library I developed a love of reading. Even if a child’s reading starts off on a rough foot, as mine did, their love of reading is salvageable. Simply, parents and educators need to focus on motivating the child’s natural drives and then learning to read and loving it will come naturally.

Teach yourself to write better by reading the authors you love

Reading has been shown to improve intelligence, increase empathy, and lower stress. These are benefits everyone who picks up a book can enjoy. But as a writer, reading closely also provides a way to learn your craft. It can help you improve your vocabulary, learn new strategies for structuring a story, or renew your energy for a project that’s grown stale.

Here are some tips and resources to help you get more out of your reading. They’re mostly geared toward fiction and memoir writers, but they can also be helpful if you write scripts, articles, personal essays, or blog posts.

Reading like a writer comes from a place of appreciation, so choose your reading material wisely. If you pick a writer you tend to quibble with or can’t help critiquing, move on. With writers you don’t like, it’s too easy to get stuck in an argument with their work, and that won’t help you improve your own.

Ben Franklin famously taught himself to write through close readings of articles in a magazine he admired and wanted to emulate. According to his autobiography, he went line by line through an article and took notes. A couple of days later, he tried to reproduce the article in his own words. Then he compared his work with the original and made corrections.

Similarly, novelist and memoirist Harry Crews was a big fan of Graham Greene. He taught himself to write by dissecting Greene’s novel, The End of the Affair. He didn’t just read the book. He analyzed the number of characters, scenes, and even rooms. He looked at pacing, tone and point of view. Then he reassembled the story, but with his own characters, scenes, rooms, and so on.

If you have the focus and patience to study a book to the degree that Franklin and Crews did, that’s great. But even copying out a section — a passage that moves you, for example—can give you a deeper appreciation of a writer’s style and expand your preconceived notions of what’s possible. You might also find that writing about what you read can move you inward, stirring up ideas for your own writing.

It’s fine to underline and annotate a book you purchase or download, but you’ll get more out of your reading if you keep a notebook. I like to keep an actual notebook versus a document or online journal. When I copy out a passage, the writer’s voice seems to seep in deeper if I can feel my hand, moving across a page, forming their words and sentences.

Reading like a writer comes from a place of appreciation, so choose your reading material wisely. If you pick a writer you tend to quibble with or can’t help critiquing, move on.

A reading notebook can also be a place for tracking how a writer handles certain aspects of craft you’re curious about or struggling with in your own work. For example, for a period of time I kept lists of characters as I read a novel, making a note of the page on which they were introduced and when they appeared again. From this simple exercise, I came to appreciate how a novel that focuses on a few main characters can support a much bigger cast of characters, each one of whom serves the story in some important way.

Another benefit of the notebook is that it provides a record of books you might want to reread and analyze in more depth later on.

We love to get caught up in a good story. So the first time through, let yourself read for the pleasure of it. You may want to mark sections that move or intrigue you during the first pass. You can even pause, to copy passages into your reading notebook. But when the action picks up and the stakes get high, you might find yourself so absorbed you won’t want to look up, let alone take a note.

The second time through, you already know what’s going to happen. This gives you some distance to look at the writer’s craft.

For an example of how it’s done like a pro, check out the work of Shawn Coyne. A veteran editor, Coyne wrote The Story Grid, a book that gives a detailed overview of the elements that make a story work. He then applies these concepts to Thomas Harris’s bestselling thriller, Silence of the Lambs, meticulously tracking the story’s progress through multiple lenses. He turns this same discerning eye to the love story in his annotated edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. With commentary at the end of each chapter, Coyne demystifies abstractions such as “story value” and “inciting incident,” offering a masterclass in story analysis as he deconstructs Austen’s genre-defining craft. You can download other resources to support this kind of deep dive on the Story Grid website.

We love to get caught up in a good story. So the first time through, let yourself read for the pleasure of it.

In 2001, for the first time in her prolific career, Jane Smiley was stuck while writing a novel. She re-inspired herself by revisiting the novels that inspired her. From this exercise, she wrote 13 Ways of Looking at a Novel, which covers aspects of the novel, including its origins and historical development, as well as short studies of one hundred novels. Smiley went on to finish her novel in progress, and she wrote several more.

Smiley is a wonderful writer, so the book itself is a joy to read. It also encouraged me to pay closer attention to the writers who inspire me. When I’m feeling stuck, I pull one of them off the shelf and start rereading. Before long, I’m back at it.

I don’t know why some writers I admire make me want to write and others I enjoy don’t have the same effect on me. It’s highly personal. All I can say is this: When you find a writer that makes your fingers itch for the keyboard, keep their work handy.

Francine Prose’s book, Reading Like a Writer, is one of my go-to books when I’m looking for inspiration. Prose’s love of language is contagious and a great catalyst for new ideas. Another bonus: Through her close readings, I have fallen in love with writers I never would have heard of if Prose hadn’t introduced me to them.

When you find a writer that makes your fingers itch for the keyboard, keep their work handy.

Discovering an author — new or old — who opens my eyes to a new way of seeing the world is a great thrill for me. I’m always on the lookout when I read reviews in publications such as the New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, or literary magazines such as n+1. I always ask friends what they’re reading, and I follow favorite bloggers and essayists as well as the authors they recommend.

Compilations are also a good source of new authors. For example, I discovered the essayist and Medium writer Timothy Kreider from a library copy of the 2015 Best American Essays. The Best American series comes out every year and now includes short stories, mysteries, food writing, sports, comics, and more, so it’s a great resource for writers looking for fresh ideas and inspiration.

In these days of social distancing, a lot of us have time on our hands. It can be a great opportunity for a writer to renew a stale project or dig into something new. But it’s also a time of great uncertainty, which can make it hard to focus. Spark your inspiration by reading or rereading a great writer in the genre you’re working in. You may find that it’s just what you need to re-engage with your own writing.

What you need to know about raising a reader.

A love of reading opens the door to adventures, learning new things and a whole host of key language skills such as speech development and vocabulary building. Spending time with books also creates special moments for you to bond with your child and enjoy each other’s company.

Just 10 to 15 minutes a day with a book is enough to spark your curious little one’s interest. Read on for our top tips on fostering a love of literature.

Start right away

Reading to your newborn helps to give them the best start in life. Babies learn language from adults who repeat and read words to them. When you read to your little one, talk about the characters and objects in the book or the sounds the animals make. Hearing your voice helps give meaning to the letters and pictures they are seeing. As you read, vary the pitch and tone of your voice and try different accents or voices for different characters. It helps to keep your child engaged and makes the story jump off the page!

Remember, children learn to love books long before they learn to read. Spending time with books together now will help children grow to enjoy them even more as they get older.

Model what a good reader looks like

It is important for children to see reading as something fun and pleasurable to do rather than a difficult task. What better way to teach this than to show them the ropes yourself! If your children see you reading often, it is more likely to encourage them. This will also help to promote time away from screens.

If you have been away from reading for a while, local bookshop owners and librarians can be wonderful guides in choosing the best books for you and your child. Family and friends are great resources too! Ask about their children’s favourite books and their experience reading together. You can even bring your little one with you and make it a special trip for picking out books together.

Take turns

As your child grows older, take turns reading out loud to each other. If you have an early reader, this can be as much as asking your child to point out letters and words he recognizes. Next, take turns reading sentences. As his abilities grow, you can take turns reading pages and eventually chapters. As you read together, ask questions about what you are reading: “What do you think will happen next?” “Why do you think the elephant did that?”

The time you spend reading out loud to each other will help build confidence in speaking aloud and will reinforce what your child has learned.

Listen to your child

As your little one grows, pay attention to her interests. If she is particularly drawn to a particular topic, like dinosaurs, try to find children’s books about that subject. This will help to reinforce that books are tools for learning more about the things we care about and she will be more likely to read if the subject matter is her favourite dino!

Don’t worry if your children aren’t reading Achebe or Dostoevsky just yet – the main thing is that they are reading. If they are only reading comics right now, that’s okay. Comics and graphic novels are still opportunities for reading! You can encourage them with other reading materials, but there is no need to push if they are not receptive to it right now.

Make it a routine

Making reading an enjoyable part of your child’s life starts with incorporating books into your daily routine. Create a special reading time before bed or while taking public transportation. While you are together, make sure to limit distractions like mobile phones and television. Your time should be all about each other!

Part of learning to enjoy reading is being around books at home. If possible, try starting a book collection for your children. It does not have to be extensive; a small one can work perfectly well.

If available near you, check with your local library for information on story time programmes. These meet ups can be a great way for a child to enjoy books while being social with other children. You could also see about starting a mini book club with friends and their children.

Reading milestones

While every child is different, here are some of the milestones you may observe as your child’s reading skills develop:

Birth – 18 months

  • Understands some simple phrases
  • Looks at books and tries to turn pages
  • Imitates speech
  • At around 1 year can say one or more words

18 months – 3 years

  • Can say 250 – 350 words at around 2 years and 800 – 1,000 words at around 3 years
  • Enjoys listening to familiar books
  • Says a repeated phrase from a favourite book
  • Imitates the sounds of adults speaking
  • Asks to be read to

3 – 5 years

  • Recognizes familiar letters and tries to write them
  • Holds a book correctly and turns the pages
  • Identifies rhyming words
  • Uses sentences comfortably
  • Learns from books that are read aloud

Article by Mandy Rich, Digital Content Writer, UNICEF

Strategies You Can Use to Ace Any Course at Any Level

  • Publisher
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    2nd January 2018
  • ISBN 9781620367568
  • Language English
  • Pages 176 pp.
  • Size 5.5″ x 8.25″
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  • Publisher
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  • Published
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  • Publisher
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    16th January 2018
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  • Language English
  • Pages 176 pp.
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  • Publisher
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Following up on her acclaimed Teach Students How to Learn, that describes teaching strategies to facilitate dramatic improvements in student learning and success, Saundra McGuire here presents these “secrets” direct to students.

Her message is that “Any student can use simple, straightforward strategies to start making A’s in their courses and enjoy a lifetime of deep, effective learning.”

Beginning with explaining how expectations about learning, and the study efforts required, differ between college and secondary school, the author introduces her readers, through the concept of metacognition, to the importance and powerful consequences of understanding themselves as learners. This framework and the recommended strategies that support it are useful for anyone moving on to a more advanced stage of education, so this book also has an intended audience of students preparing to go to high school, graduate school, or professional school.

In a conversational tone, and liberally illustrated by anecdotes of past students, the author combines introducing readers to concepts like Bloom’s Taxonomy (to illuminate the difference between studying and learning), fixed and growth mindsets, as well as to what brain science has to tell us about rest, nutrition and exercise, together with such highly specific learning strategies as how to read a textbook, manage their time and take tests.

With engaging exercises and thought-provoking reflections, this book is an ideal motivational and practical text for study skills and first year experience courses.

How to teach yourself to read

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    • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    • Online publication date: October 2017
    • Print publication year: 2017
    • Online ISBN: 9781316155752
    • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316155752
    • Subjects: Applied Linguistics, Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics, Language and Linguistics
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    • Edited by Ludo Verhoeven , Charles Perfetti
    • Online ISBN: 9781316155752
    • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316155752

    Book description

    Around the world, children embark on learning to read in their home language or writing system. But does their specific language, and how it is written, make a difference to how they learn? How is learning to read English similar to or different from learning in other languages? Is reading alphabetic writing a different challenge from reading syllabic or logographic writing? Learning to Read across Languages and Writing Systems examines these questions across seventeen languages representing the world’s different major writing systems. Each chapter highlights the key features of a specific language, exploring research on learning to read, spell, and comprehend it, and on implications for education. The editors’ introduction describes the global spread of reading and provides a theoretical framework, including operating principles for learning to read. The editors’ final chapter draws conclusions about cross-linguistic universal trends, and the challenges posed by specific languages and writing systems.

    Reviews

    ‘To sum up in my opinion this book provides invaluable and concise information about the process of reading across different languages … The process of reading and for extension, this book should be in-depth study by linguists, primary teachers, language teachers, psychologists, speech therapists, and even parents. I will strongly recommend this book to every single person that deals with children or adults learning how to read and improve the reading skills, not just in their mother tongues but also in L2.’

    Pamela Villar González Source: LINGUIST List

    Do you dream of teaching yourself a new language, but you’re not quite sure how to start?

    Or if you learnt a language in the past and want to refresh your skills, you’re wondering what to do beyond evening classes at the community centre.

    I’m an experienced language coach and have worked with CEOs, professionals, expats and students all over the world to help them learn languages.

    These 10 simple tips will make starting your new language a total success, and help you stay motivated for many months and maybe even years.

    Go even deeper after you read these by joining my on-demand training, How to Get Fluent When Life’s Chaotic, which will show you 3 common mistakes language learners make when self-teaching.

    1. Tidy Up Your Mind

    See What’s Next in entertainment and Netflix original series, movies, TV, docs, and comedies. You can stream Netflix anytime, anywhere, on any device.

    Have you heard about the life changing magic of tidying up? I mean that Marie Kondo book and Netflix show. In Marie Kondo’s world, the simple act of letting go of your less exciting stuff is a way to improve ALL of your life. And that advice works for language learning too!

    Ask yourself: “What do I believe about teaching myself a language right now?”

    Write down your beliefs, examine each one to find out which ones are actually useful to you. In Marie Kondo terms, find the ones that spark joy and throw out all the others.

    Your brain will be clutter-free and ready for a positive new start!

    2. Connect with Your Why to Learn a Language By Yourself

    As you’re currently reading this article, you are probably excited and keen to jump into learning your new language. This is awesome! Let me ask you one more question:

    What are your reasons for learning this language?

    You have got to know your reasons and hold on to them, because the world is going to start getting distracting. Textbooks and evening classes make lots of assumptions about why you’re learning.

    For example, if you’re truly in Japanese class because you love manga, you’ll soon get bored of a textbook for busy travellers. When that happens, it’s easy to assume that you have lost your love for everything in the language.

    The best way to do this is by using my Language Habit Toolkit, a revolutionary guide to finding your learning routine.

    3. Get Great Gear for Self Teaching Languages

    How to teach yourself to read

    Every new project deserves some gear. Runners buy shoes, knitters buy wool, and language learners buy notebooks, dictionaries, textbooks and other delightful things.

    If you’re someone who loves to start a new project with an optimistic shopping excursion, go ahead and indulge! For tips on what and how to buy, read No More Hoarding! How to Organize All Your Language Learning Resources.

    Don’t forget that libraries and second-hand shops always stock a few shelves of language resources that you can use.

    4. Get the Right Language Learning Apps

    Beyond your paper resources, your smartphone is a good language learning tool. The most famous language learning app you might know is Duolingo, but don’t stop there.

    Every language learning app uses a slightly different system. Get yourself a whole range of different apps to test drive and make it your goal to find out which one’s the most enjoyable.

    It is better to choose the right app and invest, than to waste your time on something ineffective just because it doesn’t cost money.

    Switch notifications off completely as they can easily make you feel bad about your progress when you’re actually doing well.

    5. Read a Story

    Research has shown that learners who learn by reading and listening to lots of interesting input at the right level can learn languages up to six times faster than those who study rules and textbook dialogues.

    The trick here is to find something you’re interested in.

    Don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in something you only half understand, see if your brain can start seeing any patterns, and make best friends with your dictionary.

    It’s surely challenging, but you’ll be amazed at just how much you can learn just from enjoying something you love.

    6. Research Music in a New Language

    There are so many cool ways of using music for learning a language that it deserves its own place in this list. You can start by searching online for artists that make your favourite style of music in their language (rap and hip hop are amazing for this), or by investigating local music styles.

    Then just hit play and enjoy.

    To go a little further, you can start reading the lyrics or researching artist interviews or attend a gig.

    7. Act Like You’ve Already Taught Yourself a Language

    Most people think that they have to wait until they can start speaking a language. What if you could flip the script and START by expressing yourself right away?

    Expressing how you’re feeling can start with something as simple as one word (“hungry” – “tired” – “headache” and so on). It will help you learn the most important vocabulary.

    Your act of self-expression can be

    • long like a diary entry or short like a tweet
    • a colourful art collage, or by writing
    • the same word written with 20 different pens
    • an audio diary entry or podcast
    • a video on Insta, TikTok or YouTube

    What matters is that you signal to yourself that you’re ready right now, instead of having to wait for some kind of future level.

    8. Make Daily Contact with Your Target Language

    While I’m on the subject of avoiding anything that makes you feel like you’re “not good enough yet”, I have another tip that has served me fantastically well with every language I’ve taught myself since I left full-time education:

    Make daily contact with the language.

    That’s all. No need to study 200 flashcards every day or go through four Duolingo levels. What you want is contact. Switch the radio on, watch a video, say hi to a friend, read a page in a book, do a grammar exercise, it does not matter.

    How does this simple step help you teach yourself a language? Join my training video here and find out more (no payment required).

    9. Use Social Media for Language Learning

    Most of the time, we think of social media as a distraction and a waste of time. But there’s another way of looking at it.

    Follow accounts that share content in your target language, and you’ll instantly have a cool and relevant library of interesting stuff to study. As you get better and feel confident, start making comments in your target language and creating your own posts.

    Why not start by following me on Instagram? Username @kerstin_fluent

    10. Teach Yourself a Language When Life’s Chaotic

    Life always gets chaotic, and it’s important for you to build a routine so you can be ready for it.

    I’ve put together a great training video for you so make sure you sign up and watch today to learn how to get fluent when life’s chaotic.

    To get this on-demand video, pop your name into this box and check your inbox for the link!

    Self-education can be wonderful and frustrating at the same time. If you go about it correctly, you can teach yourself anything in just a few months. Poorly applied, however, self-education can be a stressful nightmare. I’d like to share my tips to achieve the former and avoid the latter.

    My self-education has been fairly extensive. I taught myself how to program computers, create graphics (3-D and 2-D), how to design web pages and blog. I learned the basics of chemistry on my own in the fifth grade and read through several books on physics and evolutionary biology before any formal training. And, although I have no memory of this, my parents also inform me that I had taught myself to read before going to school.

    Self-education is good for just about any branch of knowledge or skills you want to acquire. Here are just a few starter points of abilities you might want to pick up:

    • Learn a new language.
    • Teach yourself a branch of mathematics or science.
    • Learn to cook.
    • Master a new sport.
    • Be able to run a business and manage effectively.
    • Speak in public.
    • Train your communication and persuasion skills.
    • etc.

    Learning something in only three months takes a bit more than casual trial-and-error. Here’s what I’ve found to be crucial in making self-education work:

    1. Know the end. What should you be able to do, achieve or know after learning? My best efforts at self-education have always had specific applications. The more precise the requirements of my knowledge, the faster I could learn. Do you just want to speak Spanish, or be 95% fluent in a basic conversation?
    2. Buy a How-To. Internet articles and scattered resources can help, but a solid foundation is far superior. There are hundreds of how-to books on every skill and branch of knowledge. Books can give you a foundation that trial-and-error cannot.
    3. Identify prerequisites. Programming requires basic math. Blogging requires basic computer, writing and marketing skills. Basketball requires ball handling and movement skills. Know what background skills you need before you start, so you can pick them up before or while you try to master your skill.
    4. Deadlines determine time investment. If you want to learn something in three months, that can mean an hour a week or several hours a day depending on the discipline. Your deadlines determine how much time you need to invest.
    5. Patience is a Virtue. Self-education isn’t more difficult than classroom learning. But it can be harder when you reach a dead-end and don’t have a guide. Your ability to educate yourself will match closely with your ability to keep trying when you want to give up.
    6. Back to basics. Any skill is based on a few core understandings or abilities. Huge algorithms are based on simple programming concepts such as loops and variables. Cooking is based on simple techniques like grilling or broiling. Any dance is based on a core pattern of steps. Master the basics and learning advanced skills becomes easy.
    7. Aim to fail. Experiment enough so your failure rate is high. It is easy to stumble into handling the same challenges repeatedly, but these don’t teach you anything new. Add new elements to each practice so your learning curve doesn’t flatten out.
    8. The 15 Minute Rule. If you get stuck on something promise to give yourself another fifteen minutes of complete focus. If you can’t solve your problem by that point, take a short break. Giving yourself less than fifteen minutes means you lack the persistence necessary to learn. But creating space between yourself and a problem can renew your creative energies towards solving it.
    9. What’s the point? Necessity is the best teacher out there. If you don’t need to learn something, it is going to be tricky to push through frustration points. By making self-education a built-in part of your goals, you’re driven to learn out of more than random curiosity. I taught myself HTML, PHP and graphic design programs out of a need to complete other projects.
    10. Forums are your friend. Just as there is a how-to book on everything, there is a forum about any skill you want to learn. If your searches turn up nothing, write a friendly request for ideas to solve your problem. I’ve found online forums to be a lifesaver if I get stuck.
    11. Flex your networking muscles. Immerse yourself in groups of people who have the skills you want. Although you can’t learn through osmosis, being in the presence of smart people will direct you towards the information you need. Forums are also a good place to start, but joining clubs and groups in person is even better.
    12. LeaveMt. Everestto the climbers. Don’t try to tackle the biggest challenge possible your first time. Pick tasks that are difficult, but possible given your current understanding. Trying to program 100,000 lines of code as your third program is too ambitious to be useful.
    13. Avoid burnout. Self-education requires a lot of energy and emotional will. It is easy to burn yourself out on a problem and be unable to complete it. Avoid this by giving yourself space when you’re stuck. Don’t give up, but don’t burnout trying to solve a difficult problem.
    14. Project oriented learning. Projects can be a big driving force for learning. Most of my current skills I obtained through projects. Setting a three-month project such as writing a novel or designing a small computer program can give you the structure needed to learn.

    Ellen J. Brooks

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    Learning to Read and Write: The Role of Language Acquisition and Aesthetic Development: A Resourcebook

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    by Melissa Taylor

    No, they’re not a waste of time. Not the good ones, anyway. Used judiciously, and as a complement to physical books, good reading apps can help kids learn to read and practice reading. And they’re convenient for busy families who want to encourage reading engagement on the go.

    “The advantage of using a device for reading is that it easily fits into modern families’ busy schedules so kids can read anywhere,” explains Beth Chang of iGameMom.

    There are many reading apps out there, though, and they’re not all created equal. We cut through the noise to find you the best reading apps for your kids.

    Learning to Read Apps

    Learning to read apps should include phonics, sight words, as well as reading words and sentences.

    1. Starfall Learn to Read

    The popular Starfall curriculum starts with the alphabet in Learn to Read and continues with vowel sounds and comprehension in two other Starfall apps: It’s Fun to Read and I’m Reading. iOS and Android

    2. Homer

    This top-rated, research-backed app motivates kids ages 2 to 8 to love reading by building on what they already know and tapping into the topics that most interest them. iOS and Web

    3. Bob Books Reading Magic

    Two apps, Reading Magic and Reading Magic 2, help children learn to read with phonics-based books and games. iOS and Android

    4. Hooked on Phonics

    Based on the sequential Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read program, these apps offer a library of books rated for difficulty as well as lessons for beginning readers learning to read. iOS and Android

    5. Reading Eggs

    Reading Eggs has 120 game-like lessons for children learning to read. iOS and Android

    6. Reading Raven

    The interactive reading games in Reading Raven cover a phonics-based reading curriculum starting with recognizing letters and moving to identifying words, reading words, and reading sentences. iOS only

    Practice Reading Apps

    There are a lot of individual story apps, but economically it’s to your advantage to use an app with storybooks within it. Generally these subscriptions are in the $10-a-month range. Also, unlike single story apps, most of these reading apps show the reading levels so you know your child is reading a just-right book.

    1. MeeGenius

    MeeGenius offers children over 700 interactive eBooks including some familiar books with “Sesame Street” characters. iOS and Android

    2. Epic! Books for Kids

    The thousands of eBooks available with Epic! are popular titles from top publishers such as Scaredy Squirrel, Batman vs. Catwoman, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Reading logs, personalization, and rewards are offered to support developing readers. iOS and Android

    3. FarFaria

    Download one free story daily or subscribe for unlimited stories in the FarFaria app. All books are leveled. Kids can read to themselves or choose the read-to-me option. iOS and Android

    4. SNAP Learning

    Aligned with Common Core, SNAP Learning has a library of 500 leveled reading K-12 books in English and Spanish including paired fiction and nonfiction thematic books and guided reading lessons. Contact SNAP Learning for download information.

    5. Reading Rainbow

    A subscription-based eBook library of books with topics such as animals, family, friends, science, music, and space. iOS and Android

    Reading on a device is so much better than playing mindless games. Plus, books on your mobile or table make this Chinese proverb even truer: A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket.

    How to teach yourself to read

    Melissa Taylor

    ‪Melissa Taylor, MA, is a teacher, mama, and writer from Colorado. Her goal in childhood was to read every book in the children’s section of the library. She loves (in no .

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    Surprisingly, brain regions associated with ancient functions have a large role in our ability to read

    How to teach yourself to read

    How to teach yourself to read

    Learning to read is hard when you are a kid, and even harder as an adult. New research published Wednesday in Science Advances has revealed what your brain is doing when you learn to read as an adult, and found that brain regions associated with ancient functions are largely responsible for our ability to read.

    Why study the brain while someone is learning to read?

    Reading is a relatively new accomplishment in terms of human history. It is not associated with any particular gene but instead is an ability to recognize complex shapes for other reasons of survival — knowing the shape of an animal that wants to kill you versus one that doesn’t is a useful ability — and that ability has been co-opted by the phenomenon of reading.

    So, understanding how the brain learns to read, and which brain regions are recruited to achieve this abstract skill, can help researchers understand how complexity is learned.

    How do you study the brain while it is learning to read?

    A lot of research has gone into studying a child’s brain during learning, but there’s just so much happening in their brain that it is hard to tease apart and isolate all the different stimuli and the learning that’s happening. The adult brain is thought to be less plastic, or less able to adapt and change than the child’s brain, so researchers studied adults learning to read.

    They took 21 women in their 30s from India, where the literacy rate among women is only about 63 per cent. They did six months of reading training and raised the women’s literacy up to the level of a first grader. The women were taught to read Devanagari which is a system of writing common in India. It’s very cursive and has both alphabetical sounds as well as symbolic sounds. This made it really interesting to study because it has features of two different styles of writing and reading.

    While all this was happening, the women were getting blood oxygen level dependent brain scans — BOLD for short — where they use a functional magnetic resonance imager (or fMRI) to watch where the oxygen was going in their brains. This demonstrated what parts of the brain were activated when learning.

    What parts of the brain are needed to read?

    This was a bit surprising. The cerebral cortex — that’s the part of the brain associated with learning and higher intellectual processes — was involved, but the researchers had expected that. What they didn’t expect was how profound an effect learning to read had on other areas of the brain.

    The ability to read stimulated deeper, more ancient brain structures like the thalamus that normally functions as a relay point to integrate sensory and motor input and is involved in consciousness and sleep regulation. None of those functions you’d really associate with reading.

    There are also other brain structures that are part of a very ancient system of processing visual input that we would share with mice and other mammals. These included the right superior colliculus that is involved in fine-tuning the movement of the eye, which makes sense because when you are scanning or reading, you need fine-tune and focus on the words and finer points of the letters.

    How to teach yourself to read

    What they found was that the ability to read is not unique to humans in that other mammals can distinguish complex written shapes, and we share those brain regions. This doesn’t mean mice can read Tolstoy, but that they have similar brain structures to process complex symbols. What they can’t do, and what we can, is ascribe meaning to those shapes. We use our higher level processing centres in our cortex to do this.

    Ultimately, they found profound changes in how the brain’s connections are made once you learn how to read, and some of those connections are in very ancient brain systems.

    Can studies like these help understand reading disorders like dyslexia?

    They can. One of the important relationships they showed was the role of the thalamus in reading. Dyslexia has often been hypothesized to be rooted in the thalamus. The fact that an adult brain has been shown to respond being taught how to read in such a way as to fundamentally change that brain region suggests that some dyslexia may be attributed to a lack of plasticity in the thalamus.

    What this research can’t tell us is if dyslexia is caused by inborn defects in the thalamus or incorrect or somehow improper training of the thalamus early on to be able to read much later in life. One part of this puzzle that it does help us to understand is that the average person can learn to read and it’s not the lack of learning that causes defects in the thalamus but likely the other way around.

    There’s no sign yet on how to use this research to help dyslexia, but it does start to get at the root of what causes it in some people who have it.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    How to teach yourself to read

    Torah Kachur has been the syndicated science columnist for CBC Radio One since 2013. Torah received her PhD in molecular genetics from the University of Alberta and studied how worm gonads develop. She now teaches at the University of Alberta as a contract lecturer in cell biology and genetics.

    How to teach yourself to read

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    Maybe your child is just getting ready to begin learning Braille or maybe your blind infant is years away from phonics lessons but you want to get a head start. Whatever the reason, as the parent of a blind child you’re going to need to know Braille. You may not be planning to be your child’s primary educator, but you will want to have an answer when she comes running up to you asking, “Mom, what’s this say?” And the earlier you learn Braille, the better, so you can encourage literacy in your baby from the beginning.

    Braille is difficult, but it’s not impossible to teach yourself. Here are my Top Ten Tips to help get you started…

    First, get yourself a good Braille instruction book. I like Just Enough to Know Better: A Braille Primer, by Eileen Curran. Yes, it has a funny name, but it’s a really great book with lots of example exercises. Our vision specialist brought us a free copy along with a bunch of other free Braille supplies (like a Braille table mat, Braille magnetic letters, and a print-Braille children’s book) from National Braille Press as part of their ReadBooks! Program. Check out their web site or ask your vision specialist for more information.

    Think about taking a course from the Hadley School for the Blind. Hadley offers free courses to parents of blind children through their Family Education Program. The courses are self-led with an instructor’s knowledge to back you up. They’re free and so are all materials. Hadley offers two Braille courses: Introduction to Braille and Contracted Braille.

    Get yourself a braille label maker. You can find one online (they usually go for about $40), but see if you can get one for free from your vision specialist, early intervention program, or school district. Once you have it, label everything! In order to learn something like Braille, it helps to be surrounded by it everyday.

    Also, if your baby is going to be a Braille reader, it’s important to introduce him to Braille as early as possible. Sighted kids are surrounded by print (on TV, in books, on cereal boxes, on DVD cases… everywhere!), so when they begin learning to read, print letters aren’t all that new to them. It should be the same for your future Braille reader. Get used to labeling everything so that you can practice Braille and your baby can experience as an everyday part of normal life.

    Getting your own dictionary and flash card set can also be a big help. The Braille Bookstore sells both.

    You should also try to get a Braille writer. They’re very expensive, so see if your school district or vision specialist can get you one. We have one on loan from our state’s Library for the Blind. You can also ask them if they will sell you one of their old ones at a discounted price (but be sure they have it serviced first so you know it’s in good condition).

    Once you have a writer, use it to Braille a scrap book or journal for your child to read when he gets older—remember, your child won’t be able to look at pictures of himself when he was a baby, so you need to collect memories in other ways.

    If you want to check your contracted Braille, you’ll want to get a print-Braille translation program. These are very expensive (some even more than $5,000!), but the Duxbury Braille Translator (DBT) has a free demo that will check your sentences for you—of course, some of the real cool features are disabled, but the demo will work in a pinch. And it’s free!

    Sign up with your state’s Library for the Blind. Through the library you can order audio books for your child (we were surprised at how much our son enjoyed audio books from a very early age—even at 9 months!), Braille books, and print-Braille books. Start with some print-Braille books. You can read them to your baby, he can feel the Braille, and you can practice your Braille skills, too.

    Speaking of books… Get more books! You can register for a free Braille book from Seedlings, or join National Braille Press’ Children’s Braille Book Club. You can either choose to receive a notice of each month’s book and decide wether or not to buy or you can sign up for their Annual Subscription and receive 13 books for $100 a year. Maybe a bit pricey, but that’s only $7.69 per book!

    Check out BRL: Braille Through Remote Learning. This site offers lots of Braille resources, from online dictionaries to self-led courses. They also cover specialized code like chemistry and music Braille.

    Whenever you have the chance, sign up to receive newsletters and correspondence in Braille. This is a fun way to practice Braille and your child will feel like Braille is really a part of the big world when she notices Braille in your post box.

    Speaking of Braille in the big world… Remember to point out Braille to your child in public places. Whenever you notice Braille on an elevator or on a sign, let your child feel the symbols while you read what it says.

    Finally, Here’s an extra tip: Download and print our Braille Cheat Sheet. This blank sheet is a simple way to write down contracted Braille symbols that you may have a hard time remembering (for example, I can never seem to remember the “SH” symbol). Keep the sheet with you and use it as a reference when you’re reading. Eventually you won’t need it at all!

    And while you’re at it, you can also download our Braille Alphabet & Numbers Sheet. Post it on your refrigerator for quick reference.

    Take a look in a book.

    By Kendra Pierre-Louis | Published May 24, 2017 10:41 PM

    How to teach yourself to read

    The phrase, “reading is fundamental,” is a slogan, a meme, and the name of a children’s literacy nonprofit. For those of us who can read, especially with a fluidity that feels almost like an extension of our own thinking, the expression’s rationale is simple: the foundation of our composed world is the written word. After all, the ability to read is necessary to send a text, apply for a job, or even to identify our favorite products after they’ve undergone yet another rebranding. Illiteracy in the modern world is like trying to navigate the high seas with neither a knowledge of the stars, a map or a compass—possible, but needlessly difficult. But new research suggests that learning to read does more than make life easier: it literally changes how the brain works by increasing connectivity between its regions.

    “We’re trying to understand the basic principle of how the brain works,” says Falk Huettig, a researcher in the department of psychology of language at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. “One good way to figure out how the brain works is to look at cultural inventions, things like reading that are fairly recent in the history of humans.”

    Huettig also notes that if we understand how reading is acquired and how the brain changes as we learn, we can also figure out what brain differences might cause conditions such as dyslexia, for example.

    Reading is especially interesting because it’s complex. It requires pattern recognition, and decoding symbols to create a meaning. Take, for example, the word blue. To read it, you have to recognize each letter, what they mean when placed in this order, and relate that coded message to the color that exists in the real world—in milliseconds.

    To understand how reading affects the brain, Huettig and a team of researchers took two groups of illiterate Hindi-speaking Indian adults in their thirties and matched them for gender, handedness (right handed vs left), income, number of literate family members, and intelligence. Adults were used instead of children because kids’ brains are incredibly flexible—it’s why they learn languages so much more easily than adults can—and they’re constantly learning new things, which makes it harder to pinpoint which brain changes might relate to each new skill.

    Both groups had their brains scanned in an fMRI machine, to get a base level understanding of how their brain worked. Afterwards, one group undertook six months of literacy instruction in the Devanagari script, a writing system used for several languages including Hindi. The other group received no such instruction. After six months, the researches scanned their subjects again.

    By tracking blood flow to different regions of the brain, the researchers discovered that the group who had received literacy changes exhibited noticeable differences in their brains. Parts of the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the cerebrum that plays a role in memory, attention, thought and, yes, language, changed, though that was not wholly surprising. Previous studies had shown that parts of the cortex change when we learn to read.

    What was surprising, however, was that there was also increased functional connectivity between deeper regions of the brain including the occipital lobe (which plays a role in visual processing).

    “It hasn’t been shown before that even these very deep structures in the brain that are evolutionarily old still change fundamentally, and adapt to this new skill, and start to communicate effectively with parts of the cortex like the visual cortex,” says Huettig.

    Huettig’s study also suggests that some previous research on dyslexia might be wrong. Some studies pointed to abnormalities in the deep structures of the brains of people with dyslexia as a cause of the reading disorder. But in Huettig’s research, the first round of brain scans showed some of those abnormalities—that is, the illiterate adults had brains that looked a lot like those of dyslexics—but in the group that learned to read, those abnormalities went away.

    “What our study suggests is that these changes in the deep structures of the brain have much more to do with learning to read,” says Huettig. “These differences between people who can read well and people who cannot read well are not the cause of dyslexia.”

    How to teach yourself to readAn example of the Devangari script the adults learned to read. Wikicommons

    There are of course some limitations to the study. For example, it’s hard to tell the degree to which the visual system kicked in, because Devanagari script is an incredibly visual language.

    “We do know that there’s a core reading network that always kicks in no matter what kind of writing system people learn [even brail],” says Huettig, “but there are other additional parts in the brain that change depending on what kind of writing system is acquired. For example, if you learn Chinese, then you know that the right cortex gets more activation—probably because these characters are so much more complex.”

    Similarly, while several studies have shown learning to speak a second language can improve brain resilience—staving off diseases like dementia in later in life—how learning to read and write a wholly different character system has been studied less. The institute is currently researching how the reading networks of Dutch people change when they learn something like Arabic, Chinese, or music notation, but that research is still ongoing.

    But even for those of us who can already read, the study suggests that adults brains are still quite adaptable.

    “Even later in life you can still learn very complex things like reading, which is not an easy skill for someone who has never tried to read before,” says Huettig.

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            How to teach yourself to read

            by Kyndra Steinmann

            Lately the toddler tornado has been experiencing a language explosion! Every day or two she has a new couple of words, and she is constantly trying to string them into phrases and getting frustrated when her attempts at communication are met with confusion. Sometimes she really is pretty clear—“moo..re chockat” was pretty understandable as “more chocolate,” but at other times we are only able to grasp that she wants something, or is trying to tell us about something. Language acquisition—like learning to read —is hard.The learning child has to learn to distinguish a mash of sounds as individual words, and then learn which words to string together in what order, if they want to make themselves understood. No wonder she needs a nap by mid-morning!

            The other day, I was working with the preschooler on some beginning reading skills (Do these two words start with the same sound? Which pictures rhyme? etc.) and he was really struggling with the concept. He was rapidly becoming frustrated with himself, as he has a strong desire to learn to read, and he sees the older children doing it so easily. I was watching him work at it and trying to give hints without giving answers, and it occurred to me that what he was doing was every bit as difficult as the toddler learning to talk!

            In some ways, he is just taking the next step in communication—breaking the language down into its sounds and then building the sounds back into new words—but his brain doesn’t do those steps automatically yet, and there are a lot of steps to keep track of even in something as “simple” as deciding whether or not two words start with the same sound.

            Think about it for a minute. If you’ve taught reading, then you have probably had the experience of a child sounding out “c…a…t” and saying “rat”!

            How on earth can they do that?

            They know the correct sounds. They said the correct sounds. So where did “rat” come from?

            It came from the fact that the early reader doesn’t yet have automatically in their minds the sounds of the letters. They sound out correctly, but by the time they reach the last sound, they are somewhat unsure of what they said for the first letter, so they insert a word that has something to do with the story in hopes that it will be correct. In the same way that the toddler tells me, “Rocking!”—her word for nursing—whenever she has a problem that she has no word for, the early reader tries some word that is related to the story or sentence in some way in his mind. Imagine how frustrating it is for him to be told his guess isn’t the right answer.

            Learning to read is one of the places in which homeschooling parents experience the most fear. A child who can’t read will be extremely disadvantaged in his life. True! We have a responsibility to teach our children to read, and it is very easy for our fears for their success to turn the “learning to read “ process and reading itself into a struggle and trial to our children. It is so important at the beginning of the learning journey that the lessons be gentle and that we make it clear that we know that they are doing something difficult. We need to make it clear that teacher and student are a team, and that we will continue to work with the student until he does learn to read, however long that takes.

            A few things that help with this difficult task:

            • Provide a language-rich environment that stimulates children to desire to learn to read. When young children are read to, and see people around them reading and referring to books, they will want to learn.
            • Read poetry—even silly rhymes like Dr. Seuss or Ogden Nash. The rhythm and rhyme of poetry begin to train the brain to think of words as something made up of parts.
            • Read books aloud that the child can’t yet read independently, and have him narrate the story back. Write down what he narrates and have him read it back to you (even if this means that you read it and he repeats it). This is how children learn that words are strung together to convey ideas—and, incidentally, it makes learning to write on their own easier, as they will have already learned how to compose and order their thoughts.
            • Play games that depend on language and/or spelling. Junior Scrabble is popular around here, as are just spelling things on the refrigerator with magnets to see what it says.
            • Include opportunities for literacy in their games as appropriate. The six year old and the preschooler have a game called “snack stand” in which they “cook” in the toy kitchen and attempt to sell us what they cook—Peace and Quiet Salad with the lettuce cooked so it wouldn’t crunch, for example. I have added a little blackboard to their play space, and they get someone to write a menu for them, or they ask us how to spell “Chocolate Cake with Sarbines (Sardines).” Seeing their own ideas written down prompts them to think about how other words are made.

            Finally, relax! Unless your child has a learning difficulty (a subject for another post) he will learn to read if the two of you keep working at it. It may take some time, and you may have to get creative, but he will learn! Be patient, let him know that you know him will learn—and together, you will learn!

            Kyndra Steinmann blogs at Sticks, Stones and Chicken Bones about living in a houseful of young children, special needs, discipling hearts, and abundant grace! As a homeschool graduate, she has an especial burden to encourage mothers to know and enjoy their children. Follow her on Twitter , Facebook, and Pinterest.