- The good reader sits beside the person to be checked, so that they both can see the printed body of text.
- The printed text is laid flat on a table.
- The person thought to be dyslexic reads aloud to the good reader.
- After approximately about 20 seconds, the good reader, as they hear a word being read places a finger across the next word to be read.
A reader who experiences difficulties, likely to be diagnosed as dyslexic, will stop reading.
Fluent readers will continue reading; they will already have visually and phonologically processed the covered word.
A really fluent reader will probably continue even if you cover up several of the words ahead of the one just heard.
All up to date models of reading, looking at the relationship between, linguistics, eyetracking and reading performance, incorporate what is referred to as ‘word skipping’. This is the way in which the eyes do not have to bring every word to focus on the fovea in order to process it. But really this is about good, fluent readers.
The studies on which the models are based usually use data collected from fluently reading undergraduates, or occasionally fluently reading children.
When you look at eye tracking data, each eye fixation appears to take on average between 240ms and 300ms. (Between 3 and 4 per second)
When you measure reading aloud speed in adults, the mean for undergraduates is around 184 words per minute (this is also a clear mode). In my work this appears to be independent of what the words are. Random word sequences produce the same output and even random digit sequences. This was also found by Uta frith in her work with undergraduates at University College London. So I am in good company!
This is then quite a fundamental, important value.
But when this same group of people are reading silently, commonly people read around 480 words per minute ( this is a clear mode). BUT the fixations still take the same amount of time. 2 to 3 words are being seen and processed in each fixation.
Another mode for reading aloud by adults is c160 words per minute. Many people who read aloud at around this speed also read silently at this speed.
This is all very mechanistic, there are mathematical patterns around. Wherever you find patterns in science, there has to be reasons, causation for the patterns.
The posts on visual crowding, parafoveal processing and parallel processing of visual data are all mechanistic biology helping to make sense of these patterns.
The post about musicians is highly pertinent.
The fluent sight reading pianist turns the page well ahead of playing the notes on the page being turned.
The fluently reading teacher appears to be hardly glancing at the book as they read aloud to the children.
When we improve the processing of parafoveal and even peripheral visual data, by modifying its appearance, then we get more fluent phonological output.
Would covering up the next word still stop them reading?