Dual Route reading model

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Judy
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Post by Judy » Fri Oct 03, 2008 11:55 am

Like my bullock example, I do not see cattle, recognise them as noise-emitting creatures, discard my visual acumen and search a phonological store of animal noises and then decide that I have seen cattle.
I hesitate to join in this very erudite debate, which is mostly way beyond my understanding. But I am going to stick my neck out and risk being shot down in flames by suggesting that the reason that Hugo knows that it is a bullock he is seeing is because at some point somebody has told him that this particular creature is called a bullock. So the connection with what he is seeing and the name he gives it has been made in his memory. Isn't this similar to the way we teach our pupils to associate seeing a letter, or group of letters, with the sound it 'makes'?

Hugo
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dual route reading theory

Post by Hugo » Fri Oct 03, 2008 12:02 pm

Ken, the perception of a visual stimulus (all stimuli?) is, as you point out very eloquently, ferociously complex. Connectionism and pattern association networks (neural nets) can sort it, though, rapidly and usually accurately, so long as a degree of fuzziness and approximation is allowed in the system.

As to what aspect of any stimulus enables its recognition, that will depend on the connections in respect of it which have been made as a result of previous experience with or of it. I fully accept that phonological connections for literacy stimuli, of various kinds and sizes, will be made (that's what learning is) but they will also be made with semantic matches. So the stimuli can be recognised directly as meaning, purely visually and then when the phonological associations arrive, not very far behind, they can enrich and enable. I still can't see what the problem is with any of this as I can't see why this very moderate assertion should in any way disturb anybody!
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Hugo
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dual route reading theory

Post by Hugo » Fri Oct 03, 2008 12:18 pm

Judy, I don’t think you should have hesitated! Your point is exactly correct in my opinion. Presumably I was told that the creature was a bullock. If we are taught to associate anything well enough with anything else we will do this. However, when we see a visual object such as the now famous bullock we associate it with meaning as well as its name, or the sound it may (or may not) make. The route from the sight of said object to meaning remains the most direct, while finding first the sound it may make, or its spoken name perhaps, and then using that to access meaning is a less direct, so inevitably slower and more neurologically expensive, route. It would not be intuitive, to turn the thing on its head, to claim that when I hear a bullock which I cannot presently see I use the noise to access a picture of a bullock and only then identify the thing that emitted the noise as a bullock. I can take the noise direct to meaning (so long as I have learned that bullocks make that sort of noise). I can directly identify a bullock in either perceptual modality and then accept information from all the associated aspects of bullockhood I have learned. I can mentally picture a bullock from the sound or hear the sound from my sighting of a bullock. These are, though, inevitably secondary "assembled" mental experiences.
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JIM CURRAN
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Subject

Post by JIM CURRAN » Fri Oct 03, 2008 2:20 pm

‘So the stimuli can be recognised directly as meaning, purely visually and then when the phonological associations arrive, not very far behind, they can enrich and enable.’

Hugo , the Van Orden experiment where the subjects were ask to categorise words does not appear to support this statement. If this was the case a word like “ hare” would not be categorised as a part of the body.

kenm
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Re: dual route reading theory

Post by kenm » Fri Oct 03, 2008 8:00 pm

Hugo wrote:[...]I fully accept that phonological connections for literacy stimuli, of various kinds and sizes, will be made (that's what learning is) but they will also be made with semantic matches. So the stimuli can be recognised directly as meaning, purely visually and then when the phonological associations arrive, not very far behind, they can enrich and enable. I still can't see what the problem is with any of this as I can't see why this very moderate assertion should in any way disturb anybody!
The problem with it is that
1) it is inherently implausible, because of the reasons I have already given,
2) I know of no evidence for its existence within fluent readers, and
3) I find no reference within your posts to experiments supporting your assertions.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Fri Oct 03, 2008 8:03 pm

Hugo -

You write 'So the stimuli can be recognised directly as meaning, purely visually and then when the phonological associations arrive, not very far behind, they can enrich and enable. I still can't see what the problem is with any of this as I can't see why this very moderate assertion should in any way disturb anybody!'

If we are still basically talking about the dual route model, my attitude is what I said it was early in this thread: I'm not really disturbed by (but have no way of objectively verifying) suggestions that proficient readers (a) sound out unfamiliar written words but (b) take in familiar written words as wholes and possibly also associate them with meaning fractionally before associating them with spoken words. I am disturbed, however, by suggestions that teaching methods should assume that young children can successfully do both (a) and (b) from the start - 'successfully' in the sense of succeeding in both the short term and the long term.

As I understand it, Hugo, you agree that in the case of proficient readers, 'reading' unfamiliar written words equals sounding them out (which may or may not give access to meaning, depending on whether the spoken form of the word is or is not familiar). It seems, however, that you 'do not perfectly agree' (a quotation from an earlier posting of yours) with the idea that at the point at which 100% of written words are visually unfamiliar to young children, they should be sounding out 100% of the time. I can't get my head round the apparent discrepancy. You have also said that the activation of phonological information 'cannot be quite as immediate as visual information in the case of familiar words'. But what of the stage when the 'familiar words' scenario is irrelevant? Do you accept that an absolute beginner is someone for whom all written words at first, and the great majority for some time after this, are visually UNfamiliar? As I see it, what happens 'in the case of familiar words' is absolutely irrelevant for absolute beginners, and largely irrelevant until children have made a fair bit of progress.

One problem may be that that the dual route theorists are so used to the situation where children are taught 'sight'-words from the start (with or without concurrent instruction in sounding out) that they tend to assume that even beginners will recognise some words as visually familiar wholes and will therefore have access to both halves of the dual route from the very beginning. If I were dealing with children for whom some words were already visually familiar, however, I would want to know whether this had happened because the words had been sounded out frequently or because they had been taught as global wholes. If they had become familiar by repeated sounding out, then only one half of the dual route would have been operating even if the outcome suggested otherwise - if they had been taught as global wholes, then both halves would have been operating. I believe that teaching word-identification purely by sounding out at first is better than the phonics-and-sight-words mixture at securing both of the dual routes for future use: it's better at securing the permanent ability to cope with unfamiliar words, and it's better at fostering reliable automatic word-reading (the latter because all words will have been processed in detail, making typical confusions such as 'want'/'went', 'was'/'saw', 'and'/'had', 'go'/'got' etc. much less likely).

As an illustration: yesterday I heard the reading of a Year 4 boy who came to the school a year ago, aged 7+, as a virtual non-reader - he couldn't sound out at all and he could recognise no more than 4 or 5 'sight' words. His extreme weakness was actually a blessing in disguise, as it meant that he had virtually no bad habits. I started from scratch with him and put the whole emphasis on teaching him to sound out and blend - the special needs teacher did something similar. I never suggested that he should be recognising words more automatically (I can't be sure that no one else in the school did so, but I think it's very unlikely), but now, a year later, he is doing exactly this with a fair number of words, and he resorts quickly and quite efficiently to sounding out when words are less familiar, even 'tweaking' where necessary. I worked this time last year not only with him but also with three other very weak children - they knew more 'sight'-words to start with than he did but were equally poor at sounding out. They, too, have improved, but they don't resort nearly as automatically as he does to sounding out if words are unfamiliar. He started at a lower level than they did but is now reading at about the same level, and I believe that this is because of his sounding-out mindset. OK - this is only anecdotal, but this boy is typical, in my experience, of children who are taught to rely wholly on sounding out at first. It doesn't stop them from reaching a point where they can read many words automatically - it actually helps them to reach this point.

Jenny C

JAC
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Post by JAC » Fri Oct 03, 2008 11:51 pm

Jenny, I see it often with all the 'remedial' children I teach, that those who have some facility with recognising words as wholes, often have more difficulty when being taught to decode than those who do not 'have a large bank of sight words' (to coin a familiar phrase from many an IEP)

I recently read Norman Doidge's book on brain plasticity and am reminded of a phrase that cropped up in it over and again ' neurons that fire together wire together, neurons that fire apart, wire apart.'
When a child is sounding out whilst attending to a word the neurons get a chance to wire together.
If the child already knows a word will he pay sufficient attention, in other words, are the neurons less likely to fire together?


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noor_warda
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Post by noor_warda » Sat Oct 04, 2008 10:04 am

I find the same thing with my students... I have found that the "true" beginners - those that had no English at the start of the SP course - have made more rapid progress at phonics, use sounding out as their main strategy for reading and spelling and are better at it - than the students who already knew some English and had been taught to read using letter names and learning words as wholes, some of whom are still employing these strategies despite my efforts to stop them!

A very important point is that regardless of what actually goes on in the mind of a fluent reader, or someone who is very good at any skill - you don't teach beginners to emulate the thought processes of a skilled person. Any skill is learned by thinking through and doing all the component parts of that skill and then practiced until it is automatic. A skilled driver doesn't think "foot off the accellerator, foot on the clutch, move gearstick to 2nd gear position, take foot off the clutch to biting point, put foot back on the excellerator"... they don't think at all. But you wouldn't teach a beginner driver to change gears without thinking about it on the grounds that because experienced drivers don't think about changing gears they shouldn't either!!! So why would we teach beginning readers to emulate the automaticity of skilled readers? You can't emulate automaticity, and reading a skill to be learned like any other, so needs to be learned systematically then practiced until it becomes automatic. This fact is true regardless of whether the dual route model is correct or not.

btw I left the spelling mistake I made in the last paragraph, because as I went to correct it, I realised that its an illustration that in my mind I am going from sound to letters, not meaning to letters. I make these kinds of errors quite often, I usually manage to spot and correct them though!

Hugo
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dual route reading model

Post by Hugo » Sun Oct 05, 2008 5:00 pm

Jim: The pseudomember experiment, (hare as hair, pair as pear etc) as I wrote before, is subject to much debate as to its real meaning. There is a very considerable orthographic influence in there (as opposed to purely phonological) and word frequency drastically affects the relicability of the effect at all. Taft (1991) is where to start.

Kenm:

1. I cannot see what is so implausible in the idea that a visual signal is usually directly visually recognised.
2 & 3: I have provided many sources for the evidence in previous posts. Some is described in my online book, too.

Jenny: I think this can be my last posting on this subject as I agree with your description of the dual route model and most of what you describe as sensible teaching of very early literacy. However, my easy acceptance of your views on the pedagogy are due to your own wisdom in allowing that both “halves of the dual route” must be aboard if really adaptable reading is to be enabled. I think you would agree with me, at least in private, that there are many far more partisan and exclusive voices to be heard in the debate. It is these I fear.

You speak of some beginners recognising words as visually familiar, or global wholes. I want just before departing to make the point that I do not regard whole word reading as very common. Most visual units will be smaller than words. Probably not often letters as such, more often letter patterns and morphemes. The rather extreme idea that we recognise words as shapes is more or less extinct today I think. So when you write about, say, learning solely sight-words you are considerably overstating my case. When you write “… he resorts … to sounding out when words are less familiar …” you are describing exactly the effect of using dual route availabilities effectively, as you and I routinely do. I take the point (and you are the expert teacher) that the very early learner may be advantaged by learning a different mix of skills at different stages and not, perhaps, learning the full range of skills as deployed by the fluent reader, but both of us recognise that there is such a range and they need to be learned. Thank you for your generous debating.
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Judy
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Post by Judy » Mon Oct 06, 2008 12:50 am

You speak of some beginners recognising words as visually familiar, or global wholes. I want just before departing to make the point that I do not regard whole word reading as very common. Most visual units will be smaller than words. Probably not often letters as such, more often letter patterns and morphemes. The rather extreme idea that we recognise words as shapes is more or less extinct today I think.
Hugo, if I understand you correctly, I would definitely dispute what you say about beginners recognising words as visually familiar, or global wholes! All of the 'strugglers' I have ever taught do this routinely - that's what they've been taught to do. And it's what I have to try to 'unteach'!

Maybe, as you say, the visual units are smaller than words - and that is part of the problem! They see part of a word that they think they recognise and then they make up (guess!) the rest, with disastrous results - eg reading 'ice cream' for scram', 'that' for 'what', etc etc!

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Mon Oct 06, 2008 7:58 am

I agree, Judy. Teacher-trainers (and therefore teachers) have been very much influenced by the view that 'logographic' reading is the first step for children. They often cite Frith's 1985 work on this, but the idea was not new then - whole-word teaching methods had been widespread since at least the 1970s and probably earlier, so it was not surprising that Frith and other academics saw what they saw.

The following by Henrietta Dombey (a leading teacher-trainer, one-time president of the UK Literacy Association etc.) is typical:

'Initially, whatever we try to teach them, young children recognise words as unanalysed wholes. making no attempt to map the component letters into speech sounds. [Frith] terms this the logographic phase, stating that towards the end of this phase children may well notice at least some of the letters involved. But they only start to make systematic use of this knowledge when they enter the next phase, what she terms the alphabetic or analytic phase. Here they are learning to relate letters and groups of letters to phonemes. In other words, they are learning phonics' ('Literacy Today' No. 20, September 1999 - quoted by me in RRF Newsletter 45, 2001).

So we had teachers believing that it was natural for children to start by reading logographically and therefore teaching them to do just this, and the children dutifully trying to do it, but because they had been taught to do it rather than because they were programmed that way by nature.

Jenny C.

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:05 am

One other quick point: it may not have been a matter of 'word-shape' reading in an extreme form, but it has been a matter of insufficient attention to the exact letters in words and their exact order. So it has been common for weaker readers to read 'what' as 'that', 'had' or 'said' as 'and', 'saw' as 'was' etc.

Jenny C.

JIM CURRAN
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Post by JIM CURRAN » Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:23 pm

Philip Gough's ( 1992 ) experiment shows just how wasteful it is to try to teach beginning readers to memorise words as wholes. He asked children to learn some made-up vocabulary words, which he presented on flash-cards. In the corner, on one card, he deliberately placed a thumb-print. Children were very quick to learn the word which was on the card with the thumb-print, but after the children learned that word, they typically did not recognize it when the thumb-print was removed. Further, when the thumb-print was moved to a different card with a different word, children tended to erroneously call the name of the word that originally accompanied the thumb-print. Even more revealing, however, when Gough presented a card containing only a thumb-print, and no word, children still tended to call the name of the word they had originally associated with the thumb-print.

g.carter
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Post by g.carter » Tue Oct 07, 2008 8:06 am

Very interesting thread and Jenny's observation :

it may not have been a matter of 'word-shape' reading in an extreme form, but it has been a matter of insufficient attention to the exact letters in words and their exact order. So it has been common for weaker readers to read 'what' as 'that', 'had' or 'said' as 'and', 'saw' as 'was' etc.
is spot-on.

marylennox
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Post by marylennox » Tue Oct 07, 2008 8:38 pm

I can remember being completely puzzled by the way several children in the school in which I was then employed as a learning support teacher regularly confused 'and' and 'the'.
I gradually worked out that these were children who had been taught to read whole words before they had acquired any phonic knowledge at all. The first set of words they were given to learn (cards in tins and flashcards) included 'and' and 'the'- the only two 3 letter words. For children with no letter sound knowledge and the propensity to confuse things it was easy to muddle the two words and this persisted for years!

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