The Five Stages Of Reading
by Carolyn Caron and Cliff Ponder, Reading Instruction Specialists
The five stages of reading are essential for understanding written
English. Each one must be mastered by the student, but they are not
difficult if taught correctly.
First Stage Of Reading: Word Attack Skills
Words must be decoded in order to understand their meanings. Remember, letters are coded symbols. Reading involves learning the code and applying
it to letters as they are grouped together to form words. Sometimes
the code is quite simple, as with sounds of single letters in short
words such as “bit" or “jam." At other times the code is complex, as in
such words as “augmentation," in which the A-U makes its own unique
sound and the T-I copies the sound of S-H. Or consider words like
“classicism," where the first C sounds like the letter K, and the second
C copies the sound of S.
The rules governing
the sound a particular letter makes in a given place are for the most
part relatively simple, but are largely neglected in major reading
instruction methods. For example, if only one sound of the letter A is
taught, as in “at," students may flounder when they see words such as
“wad," “war," “ball," or “foam." And they need to know why that silent A
is in “foam." They also need to know all nine sounds of A.
Because more than 50 crucial elements are missing from the typical
reading instruction method, much of the English-speaking world is locked
in a plague of semi-literacy, or in the worst cases, illiteracy.
A small minority will learn to read regardless of the quality of
instruction, but many bright students will never learn to read well
because that crucial first step was omitted from their primary reading
instruction at school.
Second Stage Of Reading: Comprehension
The entire brain must be involved in learning to read. Specialized
areas of the brain control different functions. Only after the decoding
process is fully operative can the brain be freed to higher level
comprehension skills. When the initial reading instruction method
includes all the skills needed for decoding words, meaning and content
automatically occur in a natural, orderly and efficient process.
Third Stage Of Reading: Evaluation
Evaluation involves a careful assessment of that which has been read and
comprehended. It involves a different area within the brain than that
required for decoding and comprehension. For example, the statement,
“Red is green," will be evaluated for accuracy and consequently
discredited if the individual words have been read and understood.
Fourth Stage Of Reading: Application and Retention
Once the information has been read and properly evaluated, it can be
applied in a meaningful way by the reader. He or she can then decide
what to accept or reject and how to apply it to his or her individual needs. Some of the information may be deemed to be irrelevant or inappropriate, and may be discarded.
Fifth Stage Of Reading: Fluency
When the first four steps are functioning
comfortably, the reader usually finds that reading is a pleasant and
effective way to learn and experience factors that would be inaccessible
without the knowledge gleaned from reading.
someone you know struggles with reading, examine the method used to
teach them. It should include all the sounds and rules in an orderly,
progressive sequence. When it does, reading becomes a positive,
Comments by Reading Instruction Specialist
As you can see, all five stages of reading are
necessary to be a good reader. They can be mastered by any age group
for material at their level. Once the stages of reading are mastered,
then expanding vocabulary and understanding of reading material advances
naturally as the reader grows and matures. The key is having all five
states of reading operating.
In many ways the
five stages of reading are built like a skyscraper. To be successful,
each stage depends on the stage before it. If the stage before it is
missing or incomplete then we have a precarious building. I would not
want to be going to the top floor in it!
most reading instruction methods, even those which include some
phonics, fail at the very first stage of reading. Their students are
never taught all the skills necessary to master decoding words. Then
the brain is distracted during the other stages of reading just trying
to understand what the word is. The student suffers at all the other
stages. Usually students who have conquered word attack skills
naturally develop in the other four stages of reading. Students, who
appear to have mastered word attack skills but still struggle with the
other stages, may be reading in the wrong way, a way which forces the
brain to work harder than necessary on stage one.
Of course, you know what I am going to say next. Academic Associates
ensures that every student masters word attack skills and then goes on
to each of the other steps as required.
Sign up for our complete reading program now.