Friday, December 11, 2020

Orthographic memory (Part 2)


I posed the following question on Twitter on 6.12.2020.

Luqman Michel @luqmanmichel Dec 6 @eeharrington4

 I have one Q for you and your Phonics folks. Can one learn to read without knowing the letter-sound relationship?

Erin Harrington responded as follows:

Not well.


I had highlighted a few sentences on my post at

Here are the highlighted parts.

He (Dr. David Kilpatrick) goes on to say that if this process is going to work well, a student will need to be proficient in their letter-sound knowledge and advanced phonemic awareness.

The student will need to pay attention to the individual letters and sounds in that word. A student’s letter-sound skills and phonemic analysis skills will allow them to map the sequence of letters, that make up pin, onto the pronunciation they already have in long term memory.

If the student can figure out that pin is made up of the sounds /p/ /i/ /n/, they can match those sounds, already stored in memory, to the letters p-i-n.

I do believe that Orthographic Mapping is the process we use to permanently store words into long term memory. But is it mapped only by proficient letter-sound knowledge? This is something that I hope Dr. Kilpatrick will shed some light on.

Now my questions are:

1.       How did the students during the whole word period store words by orthographic memory?

2.       How did the student below learn to map the words to long term memory when she had been taught the sounds represented by consonants wrongly?

 Here is a video clip taken earlier this year of a university student.

She was born in India and did her kindergarten and primary education in Perth, Australia. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor in Pharmacy (Hon) degree in Perth.

The following clip is how she pronounced the sounds represented by the letters A to Z.


The following clip shows her reading the nonsense words, taken from Dr. Kilpatrick’s book, spontaneously. She was not given time to work it out but given that sheet of paper and asked to read out the ‘nonsense words.’


How did she manage to read the nonsense words when she pronounced most of the sounds of the consonants wrongly? Here are the nonsense words she was asked to read:

            Scrab, Snab, Drace, Blace, Thrack, Smail,Thake, Scrane,Sprash, Squath, Spleam

I believe the human mind is capable of figuring things out and a majority of kids figure out how to read.

Unfortunately, they take an inordinate amount of time figuring out whereby they miss out on many other matters taught by the teachers.

This is why I have continuously harped on teaching kids the correct pronunciation of the sounds represented by  consonants. If this is done, no time will be wasted in figuring out p/i/n/ and all other words.

Th above is just one of several videos I have of students who are able to read fluently despite being taught the letter-sound correspondences wrongly.

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