Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Signy Wegener, PhD Candidate in the Department of Cognitive Science and ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Macquarie University

Children’s oral vocabulary – their knowledge of the sounds and meanings of words – is strongly positively associated with their reading all the way through school. Understanding this relationship is important for making children’s reading as strong as possible.

Our new research has pointed to one mechanism underlying this association: when primary school children know a spoken word, they form an expectation of what that word should look like when it is written down – and they do this even if they have never seen it before.

Using eye-tracking technology, we demonstrated that these expectations can help children to process orally familiar words more quickly when they read them for the first time.

The tech: understanding eye-tracking

Advances in technology have made it much easier to use eye-tracking with children. Unlike old systems that were mounted on participants’ heads, new systems (shown below) sit on the desk in front of the child. The eye-tracker finds a small target sticker on the child’s forehead and uses it to work out where the child’s eyes are.

image Jo Stephan, Macquarie University, Author provided Eye-trackers are special cameras that can follow the movement of the eyes as children read in real time. They provide information about where children look and how long they look for, giving insight into what is happening when children read. When the properties of a written word are changed (for example, how many letters it has or how frequently it occurs in written language), this influences how easy or difficult those words are to process. Put simply, when processing is easy, looking times are shorter. When processing is hard, looking times are longer. The experiment: from hearing to seeing In order to form expectations about written words that have not yet been seen, children require a combination of knowledge about: The figure below illustrates that by drawing this information together, children can imagine the written form of words they cannot see. image The formation of ‘Finch’. Author provided We taught children in Year 4 the pronunciations and meanings of some made-up words. We told them the words were inventions coming from “Professor Parsnip’s invention factory”. Each invention had a name and a function. A “nesh”, for example, is an automatic card shuffler (see below). During this training period children learned some new oral vocabulary but they never saw any of the words written down. image Author provided Later we took the words the children had learned about and some other words they hadn’t learned about, and put them into some simple sentences. We then tracked the movement of the children’s eyes as they read. Previously heard versus previously unheard words We found that when children had previously learned about a spoken word, they spent less time looking at it than other words they hadn’t heard about. This suggested their reading was enhanced by their previous oral vocabulary. The time spent looking at the words they had learned about was also affected by how predictable the spellings of the words were. This revealed that children formed advance expectations about how the words were likely to be spelled. When a word was spelled in a way that was what they expected to see, this helped their reading. For example, if the children had learned the spoken word “nesh”, we showed them the written word nesh. Recognising nesh.But when we showed them a word that was spelled in a way the children probably did not expect to see, the children were surprised by this and they focused on it longer. For example, the children were surprised when they learned the spoken word “coib” but we showed them the written word koyb. Recognising koyb.In the two videos, there is a clear difference in reading times for the unpredictably spelled word koyb and the predictably spelled word nesh. The fact that children’s reading was affected by whether they knew the spoken form of the word and how predictably it was spelled shows that when children hear spoken words they form expectations about what those words should look like before they see them. In turn, this can help their reading. Building oral vocabulary and boosting literacy skills Making deposits in children’s spoken word banks – their store of words with known pronunciations and meanings – is an important and practical way of helping to support their literacy development. Classrooms are logical places to teach children new spoken words, but parents can create learning opportunities at home too. If an unfamiliar word arises during conversation or shared book reading, perhaps try starting a dialogue by asking your child whether they have heard it before.

Authors: Signy Wegener, PhD Candidate in the Department of Cognitive Science and ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Macquarie University

Read more http://theconversation.com/how-building-your-childs-spoken-word-bank-can-boost-their-capacity-to-read-80888


The Conversation

Politics

Backing Australian business, jobs for the US Moon to Mars Mission

The Morrison Government is positioning Australia for lift-off with a $150 million investment into our local businesses and new technologies that will support NASA on its inspirational campaign to re...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister - Ceremonial Welcome, White House - Washington DC

As I just said to the President, thanks mate.   Mr President, Mrs Trump, honoured guests, distinguished guests,, friends one and all, here in this land of liberty. Thank you Mr President and Mrs T...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister interview with Deb Knight

WEDNESDAY 18 SEPTEMBER 2019   DEB KNIGHT: Prime Minister Scott Morrison has launched a 12 month inquiry. He joins us now from Canberra. Scott Morrison, Good morning to you.   PRIME MINISTER: ...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Ways to Take Control Over Your Startup's Public Image

The way in which others see your business only seems like something that you have no control over. After all, it’s their own subjective matter, right? Well, the concept of branding represents a sc...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

How Digital Futures Platforms are Changing it All

Some people still remember the days when you had to be in one of the world’s centers of finance in order to be able to trade with futures. Technology has developed a lot since then and trading wit...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

Your Ultimate Guide on Making an Office Cleaning Checklist

A cleaning list is simply a list that guides cleaners on what should be done. Several factors determine the type of cleaning list for your business premises.  The cleaning checklist usually provided ...

Clean Group - avatar Clean Group

Travel

Essential Tips When Planning a Trip in the USA

Everyone has their dream destination. It could be a memorable place because of their parents, a destination to be ticked off in the bucket list or a place to find yourself. If your dream destination...

News Company - avatar News Company

Travelling Tips and your Roots: Who’s Looking out for Home?

If you lead a life of travel, chances are you know that not everyone gets the same kick out of living as a nomad. Today we focus on those ‘left behind’ – how do you nurture the valuable people in yo...

News Company - avatar News Company

TOURISM NT LAUNCHES NEW BRAND

New tagline revealed, new campaign set to launch ‘Different in every sense’ will replace Tourism NT’s ‘Do the NT’ tagline from today as part of a new brand positioning aimed at attracting more vi...

Matthew Ongarello - avatar Matthew Ongarello

ShowPo