Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Role of Orthographic Mapping in Learning to Read (Part 1)


The following are extracts from a blog post found here.

Every word has three forms – its sounds (phonemes), its orthography (spelling), and its meaning. Orthographic mapping is the process that all successful readers use to become fluent readers. Through orthographic mapping, students use the oral language processing part of their brain to map (connect) the sounds of words they already know (the phonemes) to the letters in a word (the spellings). They then permanently store the connected sounds and letters of words (along with their meaning) as instantly recognizable words, described as “sight vocabulary” or “sight words”. (Internet)

With orthographic mapping of a word, the letters we see with our eyes and the sounds we hear in that word get processed together as a sight word and are stored together in the brain. This is not the same as memorizing just the way a word looks. It is also important to remember that orthographic mapping is a mental process used to store and remember words. It is not a skill, teaching technique, or activity you can do with students (Kilpatrick, 2019). What can be taught are phonemic awareness and phonics skills which enable orthographic mapping.


My comment: ‘This is not the same as memorizing just the way a word looks.’

This statement is something hyped up/ exaggerated by the SoR folks who mislead parents into not teaching their kids to memorise the 220 frequently occurring – Dolch-  words.

It is a shame that those who should be helping parents with kids who are unable to read prevent them from teaching their kids to memorise a few words. What is so difficult or wrong for kids to memorise the Dolch words. All my more than 70 dyslexic students have done it and together with Phonics are able to read.

Let us not forget that thousands of people around the world memorised thousands of words when they studied using the whole language method.

Here are a few of the many examples of teachers who believe that words are to be learned by visual memory.

Erin Harrington Nov 29 2020.


I read your link—I understand that you’re not having students learn by word outline (the shape of the “boxes” around the letters) but what are students using to memorize a word as a whole if not visual memory?

Erin Harrington @eeharrington Nov 29


Right, so proficient readers haven’t visually memorized the words they know. But when Ks are given a list of words to memorize, how are they supposed to do that except by memorizing the look of the word?

Debbie Hepplewhite @debbiehepp Dec 1


It's not uncommon for people to refer to 'phonics' 'not suiting some children' which implies there really is 'something else' or 'some other method' to teach children. Like what? Learning thousands of words by global shape? No, provide better phonics content.


Scientists have long discovered that we create our sight vocabulary by word mapping and not by visual memory.

If we had memorized words by shape how are we able to read the following sentence?

I WeNt to MARKET yesterday to buy some carrOTS, potatoes, cabbage, radish and some onions.

Here are a few more examples of teachers who would do anything to promote their products.

Another lady, Pam Kastner @liv2learn joined in with the following tweet.

Apr 13Replying to @1in5advocacy @luqmanmichel and 12 others

1. English is an alphabetic orthography. It is not logographic. We cannot visually memorize every word in the English language nor should we "teach" any word in that manner. We must use grapheme-phoneme correspondences to orthographically map words storing them as mental...

There was a tweet from Sue Lloyd, a proponent of SSP as follows:

@suelloydtcrw· Apr 13 Replying to @luqmanmichel @debbiehepp and 5 others


        We know, @luqmanmichel, the damage that can be done to many children when they try and memorise words by shape. It is much easier, and far more effective, to teach all children to read words through the process of decoding. Let's teach the alphabetic code like the code it is.

Ask the teachers mentioned above which schools teach memorizing words by shape and there will be no response.

No comments: