Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dyslexics and mutual exclusivity of letters

This is part 3 of a series of articles on minds shutting down.

Continuing with “The Tipping Point” let us see what else we can link with ‘minds shutting down’.
  
              “It tells you that a child understands what is happening on the screen and as a result is paying attention.”
                                                                                                                                    Pg. 106

            “Preschoolers make a number of assumptions about words and their meaning as they acquire language, one of the most important of which is what the psychologist Ellen Markman calls the principal of mutual exclusivity. Simply put, this means that small children have difficulty believing that any one object can have two different names. The natural assumption of children, Markman argues, is that if an object or person is given a second label, then that label must refer to some secondary property or attribute of that object. You can see how useful this assumption is to a child faced with extraordinary task of assigning word to everything in the world. A child who learns the word elephant knows, with absolute certainty, that it is something different from a dog. Each new word makes the child’s knowledge of the word more precise. Without mutual exclusivity, by contrast, if a child thought that elephant could simply be another label for dog, then each new word would make the world seem more complicated. Mutual exclusivity also helps the child think clearly”.                                                                                                                              Pg. 115

            “What this means, though, is that children are going to have trouble with objects that have two names, or objects that change names. A child has difficulty with, say, the idea that an oak is both an oak and a tree; he or she may well assume that in that case “tree is a word for collection of oaks.”
                                                                                                                                    Pg 116

This is exactly what I have written in my blog. A dyslexic child’s mind shuts down when the teacher does not explain the many different sounds of many alphabets in the English language. When I taught them family words like, bat, cat, fat, hat, mat, pat, rat, and sat they just devoured it as rapidly as any other student. However, when I taught them “A cat” I saw a quizzical look on their face. I teach dyslexic students on a one on one basis and I noticed this quizzical look on each and every student and began to ask myself as to why this bewildering look. It then dawned on me that it did not make sense to them – it was illogical to them and they were shutting down. As pointed out by Ellen Markman above ‘small children have difficulty believing that any one object can have 2 different names’.

I believe this is the reason why about 10 % of students in our schools just cannot learn English whilst they can learn to read in Malay (Bahasa Malaysia) and Mandarin written in Roman alphabets which both use the same 26 alphabets as in the English language. The logical thinking dyslexic child shuts down when the teacher does not explain that letters in English have more than one sound (phoneme) unlike in Malay or Mandarin (Pin Yin).

For the various sounds (phonemes) of the English language click here: The dates in the attachment are the dates when I posted those articles in my blog.

14 comments:

Sarah Cox said...

That makes complete sense. That really is the route of all of my son's reading problems. It all boils down to those letters that have more than one sound. Mostly the vowels. He is never sure when to use which sound. It just does not make sense to him at all and indeed he does shut down when we try to teach him about it.

Sarah Cox said...

Perfect example of what I just did there when I was typing too fast! That should be "root" not "route"....how confusing!

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you for confirming what I have learnt from teaching my dyslexic students. All my students do not have a problem with reading in Malay and Romanized Mandarin. This is simply because each letter has only one sound unlike the English language.

Heidi said...

Great article Luqman. Sarah, my son had the same problems. Got over them eventually with intensive tutoring that focused on the letter sound methods that Luqman demonstrates.

Heidi Kroner

Luqman Michel said...

Hi Heidi, Thank you for your comment.
What you say confirms what I believe and that is that anyone can be tutored to learn to read if they are taught in a way suitable for them. I have to think of ideas on how to link the last 3 articles in my blog with those who began to read well as adults but were unable to read when they were in school.
Best wishes.

Sarah Cox said...

Lugman,
Can you direct me to the posts where you describe the methods that you use?
Sarah

Luqman Michel said...

Hi Sarah, I had posted all my lessons using Fileden.com, a service provider for attaching documents. Unfortunately it had been hacked and can't be read. I have been hoping that fileden will come back on line but it does not appear to be.
All my free lessons are now inaccessible. I am now using dropbox for my attachment as seen at the bottom of my article on March 18, 2011.
I have been thinking of turning the lessons into an e-book and publish it on line but that is going to be too time consuming.
You may however read on how to teach some of the most difficult things faced by a dyslexic child in the articles dated Feb. 24, 26 and 28.
I may stop writing articles here and prepare the e-book similar to my e-book which you see on http://www.excellent-student.com

However, that will take a long time and I am busy preparing some material for some talks so...

Luqman Michel said...

Good news Sarah, File den is now working again. Please refer to the following article and read it before clicking for the lesson at the bottom of the page.
http://www.parentingdyslexia.com/2010/03/lesson-2.html#more

I will still go ahead and get my book done so that it will be permanently here in the net. I will do it while fileden is still working.

Do let me know how I may improve on the lessons. You, being a qualified teacher, would be able to give me some advice.

Sarah Cox said...

I will be happy to give you some input on the lessons.
I do have one question though: since my son is 9 and in 4th grade, do I still start with the lower lessons? I am sure he could read that book on his own. But if you think it will help I will start there and just have it be good review.
I also think it would be great if you made it into an e-book with all of the lessons in it. But I know you are very busy and that takes a lot of time. So, I will just keep reading whatever you offer :)
And please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.

Luqman Michel said...

Sarah, if your son is already learning at grade 4 level then he need not look at my lessons. These lessons for those who find it difficult to read. But you may read the lessons on sequencing etc which you can teach your son without having to take away his studying time.Those 3 articles are for parents to read and implement with their dyslexic child. Thank you for your offer, my son who is back home waiting for his results has volunteered to help me with the e-book. As such I may be able to complete it even earlier than expected.

Sarah Cox said...

My son is by no means reading on a 4th grade level. He does struggle with reading and spelling. I would say that he is probably reading/spelling on a end of second grade level.
That is great that your son is going to help you.
Sarah

Luqman Michel said...

Sarah, if your son is in 4th grade and is reading at end of 2nd grade level then all you have to do is to read to him with him following you line by line. Read to him everyday and ask him to read back to you line by line.Very soon he will be able to read at above grade level.

Sarah Cox said...

Thanks Lugman,
We do read together every night. Usually I have him read a page and then I read a few and he has to follow along. I will stop in the middle of a sentence and if he can't put his finger exactly where I stopped then it is his turn to read. I have not made him read what I have already read back to me. I will start doing that as well.

Luqman Michel said...

Great, Try it Sarah and let me know how your son does. Read a sentence and make him read it to you. When you have finished a page ask him to read the whole page to you.Very soon you will see a great improvement in his reading.