Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Sounding boring when you read
When people read aloud, some people are really afraid that it will not sound very good. They often have terrible memories of being asked to read aloud at school and the terror that went with it. Most adult who have been diagnosed as dyslexic remember those moments as do many others!
At times it was almost as if the teacher was picking on them, victimising them. I remember students who would rather get thrown out of the class for something else than feel like they are being humiliated again.
Some would find the whole reading thing so terrible that they just stopped going to school.
Ok why is this. Here is one possible explanation. Read it. Think about it. Does it describe someone you know?

The people who read fluently can see several words at once when they are looking at the page or screen.
The slower reader sees fewer words and has to take more pictures...
The slowest readers can sometimes only see one part of a word at once. Back in the early nineties at Walton I did not understand this, but one fantastic student, who was brilliant, simply could not spell, wanted to read but found it really tiring. One day in the sixth form, we talked about it. No one had ever talked about it before. Apparently he could only see 2 letters at once!!
To get through a ten letter word, his eyes had to move five times… FIVE pictures. Just imagine how much work was involved in reading each sentence. It also meant that reading aloud was slow and frustrating. By the time he got to the end of a sentence he would have forgotten the beginning!
Spelling...haha… so difficult.
Punctuation? ‘Now put a comma where you take a breath’ said the teachers. There were so many breaths it would be weird.
Any way they did not mean anything to him.
After our discussion I suggested that in future, he ignored all spellings and just wrote it as he wanted to. The effect was amazing suddenly this fluent student was pouring it out. When you read it you could hear him speaking. His phonics was perfect. It was just that his eyes sort of got in the way,
Nothing wrong with his eyes though.
Diagrams no problem.
Electronics.. No problem
..Just the reading. He could talk and discuss fluently for England and the rest of the world.
What I have found though is this.
If a person has this sort of problem, let them read aloud to you and as they are reading cover up the next word they are about to read.
A fluent reader will just carry on… they have already seen it.
Somebody with this sort of difficulty will move your finger before they can continue... they haven’t seen it yet.
I have an ‘Eyetracker’…it measures where each eye of a person is 300 times a second. It is a computer based bit of kit that allows you to see what a person’s eyes are doing as they are reading... a very ‘eye-opening piece of kit.
I remember one student in Cheltenham bursting into tears when she heard herself reading fluently! Happy tears.
Next topic. Easily distracted ..the Ritalin story?


  1. I was the pupil that sat towards the back of the class in English. I hated reading out loud, it makes sence now why others were better they were reading ahead i never could. I only read the words as i got to them longer words i would stumble over as i had to read them one sylibol at a time. I was very embarrassing. Even as an adult i can't read aloud. the bigger the crowd the worse it seems. My adult life has suffers because of the lack of confidence. And i still now don't like to read. I'm wary of having poor punctuation and spelling skills. Although the internet social networking and general day to day living is improving them.

  2. You are not alone. There are thousands of people in a similar situation. The strange thing is that if people are just talking, with no need to look at print to find the word to say then there is no problem. It is down to the way the eyes are managed to take the pictures. But you can make it easier, actually very easy if the comoputer screen is set up properly. The full colour system on a computer makes possible that could not be done on a printed page.