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How to Create Successful Readers: 5 Articles from Scientific Learning

Posted by Peter Barnes on March 29, 2016 at 12:19 PM

What do teachers need to do to make sure students become successful readers?

Scientific Learning Corporation, the developer of the Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant programs, has published five easy to read articles about the components of reading success.

In this blog, I have summarised the articles. You can read them in full by clicking on the links.

1:     5 Essential Skills for Teaching Children How to Read

According to the USA National Reading Panel learning to become a successful reader depends on five essential skills:

   For beginning readers:

  1. Phonemic Awareness:  The ability to notice, think about and work with individual speech sounds (phonemes) within words.
  2. Phonemic Decoding:  The ability to capture the meaning of unfamiliar words by translating groups of letters back into the sounds that they represent, link them to your verbal vocabulary, and access their meaning.

    For learning how to read for meaning:

  3. Vocabulary:  Understanding the meaning of words including that their meaning can change in different contexts. For example, knowing that “bark” when reading about a tree has a different meaning when reading about a dog.
  4. Fluency:  The ability to read with sufficient ease and accuracy that active attention can be focused on the meaning and message of the text.
  5. Comprehension:  Thinking about the meaning of each segment of the text as it is read, building an understanding of the text as a whole, and reflecting on its meaning and message.

2:     The Importance of Language Development for Learning to Read

Children who start kindergarten with more language skills learn how to read more easily, according to multiple research studies.

A child’s language development can be enhanced by parents and carers taking time to speak to them as much as possible.

There is a strong connection between language experience, vocabulary development, and socioeconomic status (SES).


A well known study by professors Hart & Risley showed that by the time a child is 4 years old, there is a 32 million word difference between the children of professional families and those from low SES families.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds not only start school less well able to learn to read, but their disadvantage becomes greater as they get older. This is because of their weak language foundation.

The weak language foundation manifests into a huge literacy gap as children progress through school.


3:     The Brain’s Ability to Process Small, Quick Sound Changes is Important for Learning to Read.

What happens when a child enters school a poor vocabulary or from a disadvantaged background? Or with a weakness in their ability to process small and fast changes in sounds?

Schools start building on top of a weak foundation. Letter names, letter sounds, phonics, etc., are layered on top of a poor sound system and weak oral language.

4:     The Link Between Reading Fluency and Comprehension

Reading fluency is the ability to read with ease and accuracy so that the reader can focus their attention on the meaning of the text.

When young readers lack fluency, their oral reading sounds choppy or hesitant. It lacks the accuracy, rhythm, and the flow that indicates a confident understanding of the text.

When children can read fluently, they don’t have to take up energy and time trying to decode and sound out words. They are better able to understand the meaning of the words, sentences and paragraphs.

Research shows that reading aloud enhances fluency and comprehension. 

5:     How to Select a Reading Intervention

Look for research citations for the interventions, and also understand where they came from.

For example, Fast ForWord was developed in a university lab. And it continues to be independently researched almost 20 years after the first programs were released.

Independent research from Stanford and Harvard universities shows actual physiological changes in the brain after struggling readers used Fast ForWord.

Look below at the brains of proficient readers and struggling readers. See the difference? One has more concentrated activity in certain areas.


The researchers at Stanford and Harvard found that brains of struggling readers became more like those of typical readers after they used Fast ForWord for 8 weeks.

And behavioural tests showed improved reading and language performance as well.

Fast ForWord addresses the core causes of student learning difficulties by targeting foundational auditory processing, phonemic awareness, language, memory and attention skills.

It targets the foundational language skills children need to learn to read and develop literacy. 


 Download Scientific Learning Research Highlights

Related Posts

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Historic NSW School Helps Students with Latest Fast ForWord Brain Science

How Fast ForWord Improved Student Outcomes in Canada School District

Topics: Learning Difficulties, Comprehension, Brain Science, Dyslexia, Reading, Fast ForWord, Literacy

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