The following are extracts of the Podcast. You may listen to the podcast here.
Dr. Kathryn Garforth:
Reading can be broken down into two components:
i. Decoding words
ii. Understand the meaning / language comprehension.
Are you able to describe what exactly dyslexia is?
Dr. Kathryn Garforth replied:
Public view of dyslexia – it is a reading disability.
Professionally speaking – when you are talking about a disability in reading that is a specific learning disorder in reading and that is decoding of the words. Someone with dyslexia struggles with word identification and not necessarily with language comprehension. So, when they are struggling is when they are trying to figure out what those words on the page say and how to put those together.
A large weakness that dyslexics most commonly have is something called Phonological awareness – specifically phonemic awareness.
My comment: From both the public view and professional view of dyslexia, as above, it appears that any kid who struggles to read is a dyslexic.
From my experience of having taught kids who struggle to read I find that a majority of such kids are shut-down kids who disengage from learning to read due to confusion. The confusion is a result of bad instruction.
I had discussed with Dr. Kathryn on phonological awareness but she appears adamant. My question is, how it is possible for a kid, with phonological awareness deficit, to read in Malay and many other languages.
On the other hand,is it phonemic awareness deficit that is the problem? I believe not. Many teachers are teaching the wrong pronunciation of phonemes of consonants and then calling it a phonemic awareness problem.
Back in 2018 I had written a blog post on my unsuccessful attempt to get Baby TV to remove their episode of ‘Charlie and the alphabet’. It is this kind of wrong teaching of pronunciation of phonemes of consonants that confuse kids who then disengage from learning to read.
Jedlie then asked the following question:
We teach that ‘c’ is for cat and ‘a’ is for apple. We are not letting them know early enough that ‘a’ is for apple most of the time but there are other times when ‘a’ makes (represents) a different sound. When should we introduce that idea to the kids?
The following was Dr. Kathryn Garforth’s response to the above question which I believe did not answer the question. Her answer appears to promote Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP).
I advocate a Systematic Synthetic approach in teaching phonics. So, phonics is the instruction between the letters and the sounds they represent. There are a few letters that have a one to one correspondence.
First, you need to understand the connection between letters and sound and be able to sound out the word.
There are 5 parts to reading i. Phonological awareness, ii Phonics, iii. Vocabulary, iv. Fluency and v. Comprehension.
My comment: This appears to be the standard answer. The definition of reading as given by Dr. Garforth is ‘decoding words’.
Without decoding a child cannot read let alone vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.
The foundation of learning to read is decoding.
Phonics is sound symbol skills + Blending ability.
As such, if we do not teach the correct pronunciation of phonemes of consonants (sound symbol skills) how can we expect kids to learn to read?
Thank goodness a few kids somehow learn intuitively and a majority figure out after wasting an inordinate amount of time. We should be concerned about the kids who shut down from learning to read who are then wrongly classified as dyslexic.
Dr. Kathryn had promised to respond to my questions or comment on my post found here.
I hope Dr.Kathryn Garforth will be able to assist us with the questions raised.
Note : You may access Reading with your kids podcast at https://readingwithyourkids.com/