Monday, November 30, 2020

Decoding and comprehension


Here are some tweets from 29.11.2020 which I rather not respond on Twitter as the person twitting has not responded to my rebuttals ever.

denyse Ritchie @dejaynjd Replying to @eeharrington4 @NarelleLynch1 and 2 others

Is it ‘decoding’ or reading comprehension the year 4 slump is exposing? Many children can read but it is their lack of vocabulary understanding & spelling/writing skills that is failing them.


My comment: I know for a fact that the 4th grade slump is mainly due to being unable to decode or being unable to decode fluently. Many kids read too slowly and laboriously. This is a sign that we need to work on decoding first.

Spelling and sight word vocabulary are all important but many kids are stuck in the decoding stage. 

Only when decoding is fluent can they reach the point of automaticity.

Understanding of meaning of words, which is very important for reading with fluency and expression which then leads to comprehension comes after being able to decode.  

Even if a kid is able to decode words properly if he does not understand key words he will be unable to read smoothly and with understanding.

I have seen many articles on the internet stating that the 4th grade slump is because of reading comprehension. Many so-called educators repeat what they read without thinking.

All my students could not do comprehension exercises at the end of storybooks even after reading two or three times. However, when read to by me they could understand and answer all comprehension questions at the end of the storybook.

This goes to show that when they are reading themselves they are struggling to decode and fully concentrating on decoding instead of comprehending.

Erin Harrington@eeharrington4 Replied

Absolutely vocab and background knowledge are considerable parts of the problem.

But many kids cannot read the words.

(Spelling would be an indicator of weak decoding skills, no?)

My response: Erin has hit the nail on the head when she said ‘But many kids cannot read the words.’

denyse ritchie

No- decoding & encoding are not the same. We have many excellent readers who are poor spellers. They can sound out a word for reading - but that does not mean they can spell the word.

Words become easier to read when you know the word & it’s meaning - knowing one or two graphemes in a word can help you decode- which is why early years should be heavily focused on sharing rich text to developing vocab & teaching ‘real phonics’ in context.

My comment: This is a classic case of arguing for argument sake and going off on a tangent. This discussion is on reading comprehension? Why bring in spelling? What has spelling got to do with comprehension in this instance.

Spelling is important but excellent readers who are poor spellers will still be able to comprehend text well.

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