ETNTCAmyLincolnHowtheBrain

Report
HOW THE BRAIN
LEARNS TO READ
AUGUST 20, 2013
EDUCATING THE NON-TRADITIONAL
STUDENT
Amy Lincoln, PhD, CCC-SLP
About myself…

Speech-Language Pathologist
 Learning
Disability Specialist
 PhD in Neuroscience


17 years experience working with children with
language and learning disabilities
Epicenter Therapy Services
 www.epicentertherapy.com
Agenda for the talk…



Provide an overview of the connection between
spoken language and reading
Examine the complexities of the learning-to-read
process
Consider the unique struggles of non-traditional, ELL
students, who are learning to read
1. Spoken Language
The foundation to reading is built on the child’s
language system…
Spoken Language
•
•
•
Language is VERY complex for typically
developing children in their native language
Language development is interrupted for IA
(internationally adopted) children
Not all “language” is alike
Processing Spoken Language

BRAIN BASICS
Brain uses Broca’s and
Wernicke’s areas for
language comprehension
and expression
 Also uses other neural
networks in the left
hemisphere
 Ability to acquire spoken
language is encoded in
our genes
 Diminishes around 10-12
years of age

Language is complex…

Consider this…
A
single human voice can pronounce all the hundreds of
vowel and consonant sounds that allow it to speak any
of the estimated 6,500 languages that exist today
Learning Phonemes





Units of sounds
Combine to form syllables
Infant’s brain can respond to all (300+)
Only those that are repeated get attention
By age one, neural networks focus on sound in the
infant’s environment
#
of phonemes in a language may vary from 11-141
Words

Vocabulary Development
 First
words are usually nouns, labels
 Action and relationship words come later

Consider this…
 By
age 6…
 Expressive
vocabulary is ~ 2500+ words
 Receptive vocabulary is ~ 20,000+ words
The power of VOCABULARY

One study of early vocabulary demonstrated that
toddlers (3-4 yrs.) from various socio-economic
groups demonstrated the following average # of
vocabulary words:
 Welfare
child (529 words)
 Mid/Low SES (749 words)
 Upper SES (1,116 words)

Six years later, early scores were predictive of
listening, speaking, syntax, semantics and reading
skills at age 9-10.
Hart & Risley, 2003
Vocabulary

“When one realizes that children have to learn
about 88,700 written words during their school
years and that at least 9,000 of these words need
to be learned by the end of grade 3, the huge
importance of a child’s development of vocabulary
becomes crystal-clear.”
Proust and the Squid, Maryanne Wolf, p.123
Language complexity grows
exponentially






Phonemes: sounds
Recognize hierarchy of language: nouns, verbs, rules
of grammar
Vocabulary
Morphemes: word parts (-s, -ed)
Sentence level
Speaking/Understanding
 Explicit
and inferred
ESL or ELL



ESL – English as a second language
ELL – English Language Learner
Because most adoptive parents do not speak the child’s
birth language, children quickly lose their abilities in
that language
Children adopted prior to the age of 2, develop English
similar to native speakers
 Children adopted at ages 3-4 years lose most expressive
use of their first language in 6-12 weeks
 Older kids…??

“Language Lurch”


The transition period when the first language skills
have disappeared and their new language skills
have yet to fully form.
“Remember: Language is a powerful tool used in the regulation
of behavior: When this tool is taken away from a child, a host
of behaviors can be observed…”
Language Development in IA Children, Gindis, 2004
Brain Basics…


Functional MRI studies of adults who were
internationally adopted as children confirm that
adult adoptees no longer recognize nor understand
their first language, even those who were adopted
at school age.
However, the same fMRI studies also confirm that
internationally adopted adults process their new
adopted language using different areas of the
brain than those of native-language speakers.
Pallier et al., 2003
Language vs. communication

Communicative Language
 Language
skills needed for social interaction in
everyday practical contexts
 Basic pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar
 “Picnic Lunch” language

Cognitive Language
 Is
a tool of reasoning, a means of literacy, and a
medium for academic learning
 “4th Grade Science Project Language”
Development of
Cognitive Language



Children are predisposed to cognitive language
mastery through their earlier experiences with the
language
This step is what the majority of IA children miss in
their early development
“Also, as their first language is rapidly lost and their
new first language is still weak is a significant
interruption of their language development”
Language Development in IA Children, Gindis, 2004
English Language “Mastery”
Communicative
Language
≠
Cognitive
Language
2. The Reading Process
•
•
Learning to read is hard!
Reading requires good auditory processing,
visual processing and language processing
(cognitive language) skills
Learning to read



Relatively NEW phenomena
Genes have not incorporated reading into their
coded structure
If reading were a natural ability, everyone would
be doing it…
How hard is it to learn to read?
“Why is it that
the hardest
thing children
are ever
asked to do is
the first thing
they’re asked
to do?!”
-Merryl Pischa,
Reading Specialist



Nearly two-thirds of low-income 4th
graders cannot read at the proficient
level
Nearly 40 million adults (in US) are
functionally illiterate
No one method or program has
surpassed all others
Studies Show…





Novice readers use different cerebral pathways than
proficient readers
People with reading difficulties use different brain
regions to decode written text than do typical readers
The brains of people with reading problems work
harder than those of skilled readers
Even though dyslexia is a brain disorder, it is treatable
Brains of young struggling and dyslexic readers can be
rewired to more closely resemble those used by typical
readers
How the Brain Learns to Read, David Sousa, p. 4-5
The reading process
Language Processing
(Cognitive Language)
Auditory Processing
Visual Processing
decoding
&
meaning
Things that can go wrong with
reading…
Auditory
Problems
• Prevents hearing
the phonemes
correctly
Visual Problems
• Prevents seeing
letters clearly
• Prevents processing
visual information
accurately
Auditory/Visual
Processing
• Timings are not
synchronized
Semantics
• Word meaning is
not known
Working
Memory
• Memory does not
hold sounds or
words long enough
to attach meaning
Things that can go wrong with
reading…
Auditory
Problems
• Prevents hearing
the phonemes
correctly
Visual Problems
• Prevents seeing
letters clearly
• Prevents processing
visual information
accurately
Auditory/Visual
Processing
• Timings are not
synchronized
Semantics
• Word meaning is
not known
Working
Memory
• Memory does not
hold sounds or
words long enough
to attach meaning
Auditory Processing




Awareness that speech is composed of sounds
(phonemes)
Recognition that written spellings represent sounds
(alphabetic principle)
Understanding that phonemes can be manipulated
Phonemic awareness strong predictor of reading
success in later grades
Phonemic awareness…
Vowels
Vowel Chart
representing
where in the
mouth vowel
sounds are
produced…
Source:
wikimedia.org
Our brains are wired to hear our
native language…
American-English Vowels
Amharic Vowels
Things that can go wrong with
reading…
Auditory
Problems
• Prevents hearing
the phonemes
correctly
Visual Problems
• Prevents seeing
letters clearly
• Prevents processing
visual information
accurately
Auditory/Visual
Processing
• Timings are not
synchronized
Semantics
• Word meaning is
not known
Working
Memory
• Memory does not
hold sounds or
words long enough
to attach meaning
Visual Processing Skills, necessary for
reading…







Eye-tracking and peripheral vision
Eye teaming and convergence
Eye focusing stamina and accuracy
Visual discrimination
Visual figure ground
Visual processing speed
Part/whole relationships
Visual Processing…

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde
Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the
ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is
taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll
raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the
huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef,
but the wrod as a wlohe.
http://www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/people/matt.davis/cmabridge/
Visual Processing
Can you read this?
Can yOu ReaD this?



How about these…
 ‫يمكنك أن تقرأ هذا‬
 你能讀
 మీరు ఈ చదువుకోవచుు

Можете это прочитать
Visual Processing

Visual spatial patterns in reading
 Left
to Right
 Front to Back
 Top to bottom


Culturally based
Learned through repeated exposure to books
Visual Processing:
Alphabetic Principle

Learning letters IS NOT EASY…
 The
letters are abstract and unfamiliar to new readers
 There are about 44 English phonemes but only 26
letters-each phoneme is not coded with a unique letter
 There are over a dozen vowel sounds but only five
letters- a,e,i ,o,u – to represent them
 The reader needs to recognize that how a letter is
pronounced depends on the letters that surround it (e.g.,
pet, Pete, pea)
Alphabetic Principle: Example

There once was a beautiful bear who sat on a seat
near to breaking and read by the hearth about
how the earth was created. She smiled beautifully,
full of ideas for the realm of her winter dreams.
Alphabetic Principle: Example

There once was a beautiful bear who sat on a seat
near to breaking and read by the hearth about how
the earth was created. She smiled beautifully, full of
ideas for the realm of her winter dreams.
Things that can go wrong with
reading…
Auditory
Problems
• Prevents hearing
the phonemes
correctly
Visual Problems
• Prevents seeing
letters clearly
• Prevents processing
visual information
accurately
Auditory/Visual
Processing
• Timings are not
synchronized
• Retrieval Speed
• Having the
knowledge PLUS
getting to it quickly
• Takes practice and
repetition in
controlled practice
Semantics
• Word meaning is
not known
Working
Memory
• Memory does not
hold sounds or
words long enough
to attach meaning
Strategies

Provide controlled text for practice
 Phonetically
controlled readers
 Keep presenting age-level interests

Provide minimal pair drills
 bot/dot

Do receptive and expressive drilling
 Which

one says “kuh”, What does “K” say
Provide sentences with key words missing, have child
provide word
Things that can go wrong with
reading…
Auditory
Problems
• Prevents hearing
the phonemes
correctly
Visual Problems
• Prevents seeing
letters clearly
• Prevents processing
visual information
accurately
Auditory/Visual
Processing
• Timings are not
synchronized
Semantics
• Word meaning is
not known
Working
Memory
• Memory does not
hold sounds or
words long enough
to attach meaning
Strategies for Semantics









Time
“Meaningful” repeated exposure
Previewing
Generating/Answering questions
Recognizing story structure
Summarizing
Mental Imagery (exposure to technology provides images-students
need to have directions for how to do this)
Paraphrasing
THEMING* (when varied classroom activities center around a theme,
students can more easily comprehend their related readings
Things that can go wrong with
reading…
Auditory
Problems
• Prevents hearing
the phonemes
correctly
Visual Problems
• Prevents seeing
letters clearly
• Prevents processing
visual information
accurately
Auditory/Visual
Processing
• Timings are not
synchronized
Semantics
• Word meaning is
not known
Working
Memory
• Memory does not
hold sounds or
words long enough
to attach meaning
Working Memory
Stress
Working
Memory
ESL Students & Reading
Some things to consider
First Priorities…
Health
 Attachment
 Adjustment

Remember…spoken language is the
foundation to literacy

“It is generally counterproductive to hasten young
non-English speaking children into reading English
without adequate preparation in speaking English”
 Reading
in any language requires a solid, mental
lexicon of spoken vocabulary
 Learning to speak English should be the first priority
How the Brain Learns to Read, Sousa, p.107-108
Ideally, research supports…




Children should be taught to read in their native
language first
Bilingual lessons and cooperative learning both increase
ESL student achievement
But…
**Bilingualism is not an option for the majority of IA
adopted children**
It is most productive to concentrate on developing and
facilitating mastery of spoken English and reading will
follow

Forget the grade level!!
Thank you!
Q&A

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