In reply to Kiki.
Look at it in a slightly different way:
Stanovich showed that the better reader does not use context, s/he knows the words. So how do we move the less able, context using, group into the better reader group? Superficially one might say - "It's obvious - stop them from using context!" But would preventing these children from using context guarantee that they would become better readers (know the words)? How would that work?
The better reader knows the words. So you might equally say -"It's obvious - get them to learn the words!". So you would need to look at how the better readers learnt the words, probably by looking back at their progress over time. Oh, the better readers used to use context (in the study - that younger group).
I'm not saying that it was the use of context which facilitated word-learning, there isn't evidence of that in the study. I'm pointing out the lack of correlation between use of context and reading failure.
You say that children use context and get the wrong answer and carry on using context, and that they come to depend on context. Why would that happen? A person wouldn't normally use a strategy that keeps failing, and they would depend less and less upon it if it kept failing them. I can think of a few possibilities :
The child is told that it's fine to guess and it doesn't matter if it's wrong.
The child doesn't know they are wrong and nobody tells them (noone monitors their reading). This could happen if the substitution makes sense, or if the child isn't monitoring whether what they read makes sense (in which case, are they really using context).
The child knows they are wrong but lacks the will to correct themselves (can't be bothered to apply phonic skills).
The child knows they are wrong but lacks the skill to correct themselves (doesn't have phonic skills).
In other words it isn't the use of context which gets the child into trouble. It's misguided teaching or lack of support, reading without trying to find meaning, immature or insufficient phonic skills or lack of commitment and interest in reading (or simply trying to get through it because the teacher says so).
And what is positive in the use of context?
It can help the child find the correct pronunciation.
It can work in tandem with phonics increasing the speed of decoding and the fluency of the reading.
It can allow a child success in the early stages of reading before their phonics knowledge is developed enough.
It can provide a decoding of an unfamiliar word which can then be matched to the word, supporting the decoding of unfamiliar graphemes.
The poor/inexperienced reader cannot, "read the word and get it right". If that was the case that is what they would do. The person who can read a word and get it right is the person for whom that word, or at least the components of it, is in their sight vocabulary. They don't need context and actually, they don't need phonics either. They are past that stage. The poor/inexperienced reader may be able to decode the word and get it right, but may need support in that - it is still a struggle, the word does not jump off the page - in which case all the elements I mentioned above are still needed (good teaching, lots of practice, phonics instruction, encouragement of reading for meaning etc). Using context may be useful here too. In fact, it is very difficult to stop children using context if they are reading for meaning!
You mention your daughter's guesses. Does she guess from context? Or does she guess from
a base of knowing some phonics? Does she come up with a similar sounding word or a word with similar meaning? Because that's the other sort of guess of course. But if she is able to read the word that she guesses, as you imply, why is she guessing? isn't she looking at it? Or is it that she actually struggles to read the word and still needs support. In that case, as much as you might be aiming for her to be an independent reader (of course that is the aim), she is simply not quite there yet.
Last edited by Toots on Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.