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Stage 1 - INITIAL DECODINGThe majority of students who experience difficulty acquiring decoding skills do

so not because of visualperceptual problems, as commonly believed in the past, but because of problems with
the phonologicalaspects of language.An understanding of the phonetic structure of the English language is a
must if a poor reader is to become agood reader.Stage 2 - FLUENCYIt is only when the decoding process
becomes automatic that is, both accurate and rapid that attention isfreed for higher-level reading
comprehension skills.Without rapid word recognition, one cannot go on to stage 3.Stage 3 - READING FOR
MEANINGOnce reading becomes both accurate and fluent, the task of reading becomes one of understanding
thecontent. It is during this stage that students expand their knowledge base.Students who are reading below
their grade level lack significantly in their knowledge base.Stage 4 - RELATIONSHIPS AND VIEWPOINTSIn
stage 4, students learn to read more complex materials from various sources. Effective reading is criticalto
success.A child that has difficulty in reading falls further behind in school.Stage 5 - SYNTHESISIdeally, this
is the type of intellectual pursuit that occurs at the college level. The reader synthesizesinformation from a
variety of sources to form hypotheses. Stage 5 reading emerges as a result of intensivestudy in a content
doesn't just happen. It has to be taught through systematic, organized instruction. Reading is a skill whichis
built upon through stages and is an ongoing process.If a stage of reading development has not been learned,
students will flounder in their reading ability, which also affectstheir writing skills. It is imperative that
teachers make certain students fully understand each stage of the reading/writingprocess before they move
on to the next level.Jean Chall, world renowned reading expert and psychologist for fifty years, and past
professor emeritus at HarvardUniversity cites her five stages of reading development below:Stage 0:Pre-
reading Stage:Unsystematic accumulation of understandings about reading between pre-school and
kindergarten.Stage 1:Initial Reading or Decoding Stage (grades 1-2; Ages 6-7 )Student's central task is
learning arbitrary letters and associating them with corresponding parts of spoken words. Learneracquires
knowledge about reading. Phonics.Stage 2:Confirmation, Fluency, Ungluing from Print, Automaticity Stage
(grades 2-3; Ages 7-8)Consolidation of what was learned in Stage 1. Requires reading many easy and familiar
books for developmental reading.Gradual increase in functional and recreational reading. Common use of the
basal readers. Functional reading important -content area texts - here's where we fail in our attempts to
prepare our students. Range of possible recreational readingincreases.Stage 3:Reading for Learning the New
Stage: A First Step (Grades 4-8; ages 9-13)Readers need to bring prior knowledge to their reading. Children
acquire facts.Stage 4:Multiple Viewpoints Stage: (High School; Ages 14-18)Should include instruction in
reading/study skills, and reading strategies for success.Stage 5:Construction & Reconstruction Stage: College ;
Ages 18 & up)Adult literacy should stress acquisition of skills useful to the participants and the ability to apply
those skills.These are the stair steps of reading development. They are built upon and climbed, as students
grow in their literacydevelopment. Sometimes students get stuck in one of the stages. It's my job as a literacy
specialist to "unstick" them sothey can move on to the next phase and beyond, empowering them to become
enthuiastic readers and writers.
The Five Stages Of Reading
by Carolyn Caron and Cliff Ponder, Reading Instruction Specialists
The five stages of reading are essential for understanding written English. Each one must be mastered by the
student, but they are not difficult if taught correctly.
First Stage Of Reading: Word Attack Skills
Words must be decoded in order to understand their meanings. Remember, letters are coded symbols. Reading
involves learning the code and applying it to letters as they are grouped together to form words. Sometimes
the code is quite simple, as with sounds of single letters in short words such as bit or jam. At other times
the code is complex, as in such words as augmentation, in which the A-U makes its own unique sound and the
T-I copies the sound of S-H. Or consider words like classicism, where the first C sounds like the letter K,
and the second C copies the sound of S.
The rules governing the sound a particular letter makes in a given place are for the most part relatively simple,
but are largely neglected in major reading instruction methods. For example, if only one sound of the letter A
is taught, as in at, students may flounder when they see words such as wad, war, ball, or foam. And
they need to know why that silent A is in foam. They also need to know all nine sounds of A.
Because more than 50 crucial elements are missing from the typical reading instruction method, much of the
English-speaking world is locked in a plague of semi-literacy, or in the worst cases, illiteracy.
A small minority will learn to read regardless of the quality of instruction, but many bright students will never
learn to read well because that crucial first step was omitted from their primary reading instruction at school.
Second Stage Of Reading: Comprehension
The entire brain must be involved in learning to read. Specialized areas of the brain control different
functions. Only after the decoding process is fully operative can the brain be freed to higher level
comprehension skills. When the initial reading instruction method includes all the skills needed for decoding
words, meaning and content automatically occur in a natural, orderly and efficient process.
Third Stage Of Reading: Evaluation
Evaluation involves a careful assessment of that which has been read and comprehended. It involves a
different area within the brain than that required for decoding and comprehension. For example, the
statement, Red is green, will be evaluated for accuracy and consequently discredited if the individual words
have been read and understood.
Fourth Stage Of Reading: Application and Retention
Once the information has been read and properly evaluated, it can be applied in a meaningful way by the
reader. He or she can then decide what to accept or reject and how to apply it to his or her individual needs.
Some of the information may be deemed to be irrelevant or inappropriate, and may be discarded.
Fifth Stage Of Reading: Fluency
When the first four steps are functioning comfortably, the reader usually finds that reading is a pleasant and
effective way to learn and experience factors that would be inaccessible without the knowledge gleaned from
If someone you know struggles with reading, examine the method used to teach them. It should include all the
sounds and rules in an orderly, progressive sequence. When it does, reading becomes a positive, rewarding

Comments by Reading Instruction Specialist

Glenn Davis
As you can see, all five stages of reading are necessary to be a good reader. They can be mastered by any age
group for material at their level. Once the stages of reading are mastered, then expanding vocabulary and
understanding of reading material advances naturally as the reader grows and matures. The key is having all
five states of reading operating.
In many ways the five stages of reading are built like a skyscraper. To be successful, each stage depends on
the stage before it. If the stage before it is missing or incomplete then we have a precarious building. I would
not want to be going to the top floor in it!
Sadly, most reading instruction methods, even those which include some phonics, fail at the very first stage of
reading. Their students are never taught all the skills necessary to master decoding words. Then the brain is
distracted during the other stages of reading just trying to understand what the word is. The student
suffers at all the other stages. Usually students who have conquered word attack skills naturally develop in the
other four stages of reading. Students, who appear to have mastered word attack skills but still struggle with
the other stages, may be reading in the wrong way, a way which forces the brain to work harder than
necessary on stage one.
Of course, you know what I am going to say next. Academic Associates ensures that every student masters
word attack skills and then goes on to each of the other steps as required.
Sign up for our complete reading program now.

5 Stages to the Reading Process

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5 Stages to The Reading Process

(Taken from Literacy for the 21st Century 4th edition by Gail E. Tompkins)
1. Prereading

Set Purposes
Connect to past personal experiences
Connect to prior literary experiences
Connect to thematic units or Special Interests
Make Predicitions
Preview the Text
Consult the index to locate information

2. Reading

Make Predicitions
Apply skills and strategies
Read Independently; with a partner, using shared reading or guided reading; or listen to the text read aloud
Read the illustrations, charts, and diagrams
Read the entire text from beginning to end
Read one or more section of text to learn specific information
Take notes

3. Responding

Write in a reading log

Participate in a grand conversation or instructional conversation

4. Exploring

Reread and think more deeply about the text

Make connections with personal experiences
Make connections with other literary experiences
Examine the author's craft
Identify memorable quotes
Learn new vocabulary words
Participate in minilessons on reading procedures, concepts, strategies, and skills.

5. Applying

Construct projects
Use information in thematic units
Connect with related books
Reflect on their interpretation
Value the reading experience
Key Features of the Reading Process

Collect This Article

By G.E. Tompkins Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010
There are 5 stages in the reading process: prereading, reading, responding, exploring, and applying. The
following list outlines the key features of each stage.
Stage 1: Prereading
Activate or build background knowledge and related vocabulary.
Set purposes.
Introduce key vocabulary words.
Make predictions.
Preview the text.
Stage 2: Reading
Read independently, with a buddy, or using shared or guided reading, or listen to the text read aloud.
Apply reading strategies and skills.
Examine illustrations, charts, and diagrams.
Read the text from beginning to end.
Read one or more sections of text to learn specific information.
Take notes.
Stage 3: Responding
Write in reading logs.
Participate in grand conversations or other discussions.
Stage 4: Exploring
Reread all or part of the text.
Learn new vocabulary words.
Participate in minilessons on reading strategies and skills.
Examine the author's craft.
Identify memorable quotes.
Stage 5: Applying

Construct projects.
Read related books.
Use information in thematic units.
Evaluate the reading experience.

Five Stages of Reading Development

Introduction I Emergent & Novice I Decoder I Fluent &
Comprehending I Expert I References I Comments
[In] a developmental theory, literacy is not a single skill that simply gets better ... Being literate is very
different for the skilled first grader, fourth grader, high school student, and adult, and the effects of school
experiences can be quite different at different points in a childs development.
Catherine Snow, et al, 1991, pg 9

Literacy is not something that just happens. One does not wake up literate. Nor does one become literate in
the same way that one learns to walk. It is not intuited from the environment nor is it simply a matter of
physical maturation. Literacy learning requires instruction and practice, and this learning occurs across
discrete stages. The following notes explore the five stages of reading development as proposed by Maryanne
Wolf (2008) in her book Proust and the squid: the story and science of the reading brain. These five stages
the emerging pre-reader (typically between 6 months to 6 years old);
the novice reader (typically between 6 to 7 years old);
the decoding reader (typically between 7 - 9 years old);
the fluent, comprehending reader (typically between 9 - 15 years old); and
the expert reader (typically from 16 years and older).
Please explore, and also visit the Stages of Literacy Development page for a more detailed discussion. Before
we begin with the stages, there are two preliminary notes to make.
Preliminary Note #1: As every teacher knows, emotional engagement is the tipping point between leaping
into the reading life ... An enormously important influence on the development of comprehension in childhood is
what happens after we remember, predict, and infer: we feel, we identify, and in the the process we
understand more fully and cant wait to turn the page. The child ... often needs heartfelt encouragement from
teachers, tutors and parents to make a stab at more difficult reading material. (Wolf, 2008, p 132)
Without an affective investment and commitment, our words become unintelligible and empty; with that
commitment words begin to show other manners of signification beyond the realm of literal meaning and
correspondence. (Krebs, 2010, pg 138)
Preliminary Note #2: Across this lengthy period of development, leaners are required to consolidate certain
skills only to encounter new challenges. The one rule that applies equally is as follows: Experts [agree] that
readers, no matter which reading philosophy is followed, have to practice, practice, practice. (You Need /r/
/ee/ /d/ to Read). There is no better way to exemplify this than in the following anecdote from Maryanne
Wolf's book Proust and the squid: the story and science of the reading brain.
I do not remember that first moment of knowing I could read, but some of my memories - of a tiny, two-room
school with eight grades and two teachers - evokes many pieces of what the language expect Anthony Bashir
calls the natural history of the reading life. The natural history of reading begins with simple exercises,
practices, and accuracy, and ends, if one is lucky, with the tools and the capacity to leap into transcendence.
(Wolf, 2008, p 109)
My other vivid memory of those days centres on Sister Salesia, trying her utmost to teach the children who
couldnt seem to learn to read. I watched her listening patiently to these childrens torturous attempts during
the school day, and then all over again after school, one child at a time ... My best friend, Jim, ... looked like a
pale version of himself, haltingly coming up with the letter sounds Sister Salesia asked for. It turned my world
topsy-turvy to see this indomitable boy so unsure of himself. For at least a year they worked quietly and
determinedly after school ended. (Wolf, 2008, p 111 - 112)
Stage 1: The Emergent Pre-reader (typically between 6 months to 6 years old) (back to top)
The emergent pre-reader sits on beloved laps, samples and learns from a full range of multiple sounds, words,
concepts, images, stories, exposure to print, literacy materials, and just plain talk during the first five years
of life. The major insight in this period is that reading never just happens to anyone. Emerging reading arises
out of years of perceptions, increasing conceptual and social development, and cumulative exposures to oral and
written language. (Wolf, 2008, p 115)
Although each of the sensory and motor regions is myelinated and functions independently before a person is
five years of age, the principal regions of the brain that underlie our ability to integrate visual, verbal, and
auditory information rapidly -- like the angular gyrus -- are not fully myelinated in most humans until five years
of age and after ...What we conclude from this research is that the many efforts to teach a child to read
before four or five years of age are biologically precipitate and potentially counterproductive for many
children. (Wolf, 2008, p 94 - 96)
By the end of this stage, the child pretends to read, can - over time - retell a story when looking at pages of
book previously read to him/her, can names letters of alphabet; can recognises some signs; can prints own
name; and plays with books, pencils and paper. The child acquires skills by being dialogically read to by an adult
(or older child) who responds to the childs questions and who warmly appreciates the childs interest in books
and reading. The child understand thousands of words they hear by age 6 but can read few if any of them.
(see Stages of Literacy Development for further discussion.)

Stage 2: The Novice Reader (typically between 6 to 7 years old)

In this stage, the child is learning the relationships between letters and sounds and between printed and
spoken words. The child starts to read simple text containing high frequency words and phonically regular
words, and uses emerging skills and insights to sound out new one-syllable words. There is direct instruction
in letter-sound relations (phonics). The child is being read to on a level above what a child can read
independently to develop more advanced language patterns, vocabulary and concepts. In late Stage 2, most
children can understand up to 4000 or more words when heard but can read about 600.

Whatever her literacy environment, whatever her methods of instruction ... the tasks for ... every novice
reader begins with learning to decode print and to understand the meaning of what has been decoded. To get
there, every child must figure out the alphabetic principle that took our ancestors thousands of years to
discover. (Wolf, pg 116)
The major discovery for a novice reader is ... [the] increasingly consolidated concept that letters connect to
sounds of the language. (Wolf, pp 117)
Learning all the grapheme-phoneme correspondence rules in decoding comes next for her, and this involves
one part discovery and many parts hard work. Aiding both are three code-cracking capacities: the phonological,
orthographic, and the semantic areas of language learning. (Wolf, pp 117)
Gradually they learn to hear and manipulate the smaller phonemes in syllables and words, and this ability is one
of the best predictors of a childs success in learning to read. (Wolf, pp117)
A useful method for helping novice readers with phoneme awareness and blending involves phonological
recording. This may seem to be just a pretentious term for reading aloud, but reading aloud would be too
simple a term for what is really a two-part dynamic process. Reading aloud underscores for children the
relationship between their oral language and their written one. It provides novice readers with their own form
of self teaching. (Wolf, pp 118)
Reading out loud also exposes for the teacher and any listener the strategies and common errors typical for a
particular child. (Wolf, pp 119)
In every domain of learning - from riding a bike to understanding the concept of death - children develop
along a continuum of knowledge, moving from a partial concept to an established concept. (Wolf, pp 116)

Orthographic development consists of learning the entirety of these visual conventions for depicting a
particular language, with its repertoire of common letter patterns and of seemingly irregular usages ... Children
learn orthographic conventions one step at a time. (Wolf, pp 120)
However one labels it, orthographic development for novice readers requires multiple exposures to print -
practice by any other name. (Wolf, pp 120 - 121)
Explicit learning of common vowel patterns, morpheme units, and varied spelling patterns in English (e.g. the
prickly clusters of consonants that precede many a word) aids the work of the visual system. (Wolf, pp 121)

Semantics (vocabulary)
For some children, knowledge of a words meaning pushes their halting decoding into the real thing. (Wolf, pp
For thousands of code-cracking novice readers ... semantic development plays much more of a role than many
advocates of phonics recognise, but far less of a role than advocates of whole language assume. (Wolf, pp 122)
If the meaning of the childs awkwardly decoded word is readily available, his or her utterance has a better
chance of being recognised as a word and also remembered and stored. (Wolf, pp 123)
Explicit instruction in vocabulary in the classroom addresses some of the problem, but novice readers need to
learn much more than the surface meaning of a word, even for their simple stories. They also need to be
knowledge and flexible regarding a words multiple uses and functions in different contexts. (Wolf, pp 124)

(see Stages of Literacy Development for further discussion.)

Stage 3: The Decoding Reader (typically between 7 - 9 years old) (back to top)
In this stage, the child is reading simple, familiar stories and selections with increasing fluency. This is done
by consolidating the basic decoding elements, sight vocabulary, and meaning in the reading of familiar stories
and selections. There is direct instruction in advanced decoding skills as well as wide reading of familiar,
interesting materials. The child is still being read to at levels above their own independent reading level to
develop language, vocabulary and concepts. In late Stage 3, about 3000 words can be read and understood and
about 9000 are known when heard. Listening is still more effective than reading.
If you listen to children in the decoder reader phase, you will hear the difference. Gone are the painful, if
exciting pronunciations ... In their place comes the sound of a smoother, more confident reader on the verge of
becoming fluent. (Wolf, pp 127)
In this phase of semi-fluency, readers need to add at least 3,000 words to what they can decode, making the
thirty-seven common letters patterns learned earlier are no longer enough. To do this, they need to be
exposed to the next level of common letter patterns and to learn the pesky variations of the vowel-based
rimes and vowel pairs. (Wolf, pp 127 - 128)
In addition, they learn to see the chunks automatically. Sight words add important elements to the
achievements of novice readers. Sight-chunks propel semi-fluency in the decoding reader. The faster a child
can see that beheaded is be + head + ed, the more likely it is that more fluent word identification will allow
the integration of this awful word. (Wolf, pp 128)
Fluent word recognition is significantly propelled by both vocabulary and grammatical knowledge. The
increasingly sophisticated materials that decoding readers are beginning to master are too difficult if the
words and their uses are seldom or never encountered by the children. (Wolf, pp 129)
With each step forward in reading and spelling, children tacitly learn a great deal about whats inside a word -
- that is, the stems, roots, prefixes and suffixes that make up the morphemes of our language. (Wolf, pp 129)
And they begin to see that many words share common orthographically displayed roots that convey related
meanings despite different pronunciations (e.g. sign, signer, signed, signing, signature). (Wolf, pp 129 - 130)

Fluency is not a matter of speed; it is a matter of being able to utilise all the special knowledge a child has
about a word -- its letters, letter patterns, meanings, grammatical functions, roots and endings -- fast enough
to have time to think and comprehend. Everything about a word contributes to how fast it can be read. The
point of becoming fluent, therefore, is to read -- really read -- and understand. (Wolf, pp 130 - 131)
To be sure, decoding readers are skittish, young, and just beginning to learn how to use their expanding
knowledge of language and their growing powers of influence to figure out a text. The neuroscientist Laurie
Cutting of John Hopkins explains some nonlinguistic skills that contribute to the development of reading
comprehension in these children: for example, how well they can enlist key executive functions such as working
memory and comprehension skills such as inference and analogy. (Wolf, pp 131)
CV: A script you can read fluently works on you very differently from one that you can write; but not
decipher easily. You can lock your thoughts in this as though in a casket.
Fluency does not ensure better comprehension; rather, fluency gives extra time to the executive system to
direct attention where it is most needed - to infer, to understand, to predict, or sometimes to repair
discordant understanding and to interpret a meaning afresh. (Wolf, pp 131)
It is the moment when children first learn to go beyond the information given. It is the beginning of what will
ultimately be the most important contribution to the reading brain: time to think. (Wolf, pp 132)
A child in this phase of development also needs to know simply that he or she must read a word, sentence, or
paragraph a second time to understand it correctly. Knowing when to reread a text (e.g. to revise a false
interpretation or to get more information) to improve comprehension is part of what [is referred to] as
comprehension monitoring. (Wolf, pp 132)
[It] emphasises the importance of the child at this phase of development of a childs being able to change
strategies if something does not make sense, and of a teachers powerful role in facilitating that change.
(Wolf, pp 132)

Barrier for the Decoding Reader

--- 30 to 40 percent of children in the fourth grade do not become fluent readers with adequate
comprehension ... One nearly invisible issue ... is the fate of young elementary students who read accurately
(the basic goal in most reading research) but not fluently in grades 3 and 4. (Wolf, pp 135)
--- Reasons ...lend themselves to diagnosis: such as, a poor environment, a poor vocabulary, and instruction not
matched to their needs. Some of these children become capable decoding readers, but they never read rapidly
enough to comprehend what they read. (Wolf, pp 136)

(see Stages of Literacy Development for further discussion.)

Stage 4: The Fluent, Comprehending Reader (typically between 9 - 15 years old) (back to top)
By this stage, reading is used to learn new ideas in order to gain new knowledge, to experience new feelings, to
learn new attitudes, and to explore issues from one or more perspectives. Reading includes the study of
textbooks, reference works, trade books, newspapers, and magazines that contain new ideas and values,
unfamiliar vocabulary and syntax. There is a systematic study of word meaning, and learners are guided to
react to texts through discussions, answering questions, generating questions, writing, and more. At beginning
of Stage 4, listening comprehension of the same material is still more effective than reading comprehension.
By the end of Stage 4, reading and listening are about equal for those who read very well, reading may be more
The reader at the stage of fluent comprehending reading builds up collections of knowledge and is poised to
learn from every source. (Wolf, pp 136)
At this time teachers and parents can be lulled by fluent-sounding reading into thinking that a child
understands all the words he or she is reading. (Wolf, p 136)
Even when a reader comprehends the facts of the content, the goal at this stage is deeper: an increased
capacity to apply an understanding of the varied uses of words - irony, voice, metaphor, and point of view - to
go below the surface of the text. (Wolf, pp 137)
The world of fantasy presents a conceptually perfect holding environment for children who are just leaving
the more concrete stages of cognitive processing. One of the most powerful moments in the reading life ...
occurs as fluent, comprehending readers learn to enter into the lives of imagined heroes and heroines. (Wolf
pp 138)
Comprehension processes grow impressively in such places as these, where children learn to connect prior
knowledge, predict dire or good consequences ... interpret how each new clue, revelation, or added piece of
knowledge changes what they know. (Wolf, pp 138)
The reading expert Richard Vacca describes the shift as a development from fluent decoders to strategic
readers - readers who know how to activate prior knowledge before, during and after reading, to decide
whats important in a text, to synthesise information, to draw inferences during and after reading, to ask
questions, and to self-monitor and repair faulty comprehension. (Wolf, pp 138)
One well-known educational psychologist, Michael Pressley, contends that the two greatest aids to fluent
comprehension are explicit instruction by a childs teachers in major content areas and the childs own desire
to read. Engaging in dialogue with their teachers helps students ask themselves critical questions that get to
the essence of what they are reading. (Wolf, pp 139)

Van den Broek, Tzeng, Risden, Trabasso, and Basche (2001) studied the effects of influential reading
comprehension questioning on students in the fourth, seventh, and tenth grades, as well as on college
undergraduates. They found that questions posed during the reading of the text aided in shifting attention to
specific information for older and more proficient readers. However, it interfered with the comprehension of
the fourth- and seventh-grade students, who performed better when the questions came after, not during, the
reading. (Fisher, Frey & Hattie, 2016, p. 38)
[This is a] period of growing autonomy and fluent comprehension. The young persons task in this extended
fourth phase of reading development is to learn to use reading for life -- both inside the classroom, with its
growing number of content areas, and outside school, where the reading life becomes a safe environment for
exploring the wildly changing thoughts and feelings of youth. (Wolf, pp 140)

(see Stages of Literacy Development for further discussion.)

Stage 5: The Expert Reader (typically from 16 years and older) (back to top)
All reading begins with attention -- in fact, several kinds of attention. When expert readers look at a word
(like bear), the first three cognitive operations are: (1) to disengage from whatever one else is doing; (2) to
move our attention to the new focus (pulling ourselves to the text); and (3) to spotlight the new letter and
word. (Wolf, pp 145)
William Stafford expressed the first element in these changes when he wrote how a quality of attention is
given to us. (Wolf, pp 156)
How we attend to a text changes over time as we learn to read ... more discriminatingly, more sensitively,
more associatively. (Wolf, pp 156)
Cognitive neuroscientist Marcel Just and his research team at Carnegie Mellon hypothesise that when experts
make inferences while reading, there is a least a two-stage process in the brain, which includes both the
generation of hypotheses and their integration into the readers knowledge about the text. (Wolf, pp 160)
The degree to which expert reading changes over the course of our adult lives depends largely on what read
and how we read it. (Wolf, pp 156)
By this stage, the learner is reading widely from a broad range of complex materials, both expository and
narrative, with a variety of viewpoints. Learners are reading widely across the disciplines, include the physical,
biological and social sciences as well as the humanities, politics and current affairs. Reading comprehension is
better than listening comprehension of materials of difficult content and readability. Learners are regularly
asked to plan writing and synthesise information into cohesive, coherent texts.
The end of reading development doesnt exist; the unending story of reading moves ever forward, leaving the
eye, the tongue, the word, the author for a new place from which the truth breaks forth, fresh and green,
changing the brain and the reader every time. (Wolf, 2008, p 162)

(see Stages of Literacy Development for further discussion.)

References (back to top)
Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Hattie, J. (2016). Visible learning for literacy (Grades K-12): Implementing the practices
that work best to accelerate student learning. Thousand Oaks, CA :Corwin Literacy
Humphrey, N. (2006). Seeing red: a study in consciousness. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
Krebs, V. (2010). The bodily root: seeing aspects and inner experience. In W. Day and V. Krebs (Eds), Seeing
Wittgenstein anew. (pp. 120 - 139). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Van den Broek, P., Tzeng, Y., Risden, K., Trabasso, T., and Basche, P. (2001) Inferential questioning: Effects on
comprehension of narrative texts as a function of grade and timing. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(3),
Wittgenstein, L. (1980). Culture and value. Translated by Peter Winch. Chicago: The University of Chicago
Wolf, M. (2008). Proust and the squid: the story and science of the reading brain. Cambridge: Icon Books.

Stages of Reading Development

By: Pacific Resources for Education and Learning

The Stages of Reading Development is a continuum that explains how students progress as readers. These
stages are based on the students' experience and not their age or grade level. Knowing these stages is helpful
when developing materials for specific types of readers.
Emergent readers need enriching and enjoyable experiences with books, especially picture books. Students
can become comfortable with books even before they can read independently—recognizing letters and
words and even language patterns. They are able to work with concepts of print and are at the beginning
stages of developing the ability to focus attention on letter-sound relationships. Sharing books over and over,
extending stories, relating experiences to both print and pictures, and guiding students to "read," helps
children begin to make predictions about what they are reading.
Early readers are able to use several strategies to predict a word, often using pictures to confirm predictions.
They can discuss the background of the story to better understand the actions in the story and the message
the story carries. It is this time in the reader's development that the cueing systems are called upon
significantly, so they must pay close attention to the visual cues and language patterns, and read for meaning.
It is a time when reading habits of risk-taking, and of predicting and confirming words while keeping the
meaning in mind are established.
Transitional readers often like to read books in a series as a comprehension strategy; the shared characters,
settings, and events support their reading development. They read at a good pace; reading rate is one sign of a
child's over-all comprehension. At this stage, children generally have strategies to figure out most words but
continue to need help with understanding increasingly more difficult text.
Fluent readers are confident in their understandings of text and how text works, and they are reading
independently. The teacher focuses on students' competence in using strategies to integrate the cueing
systems. Students are maintaining meaning through longer and more complex stretches of language. An
effective reader has come to understand text as something that influences people's ideas.

Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (2012)


Top down and bottom up processing

The names "top down" and "bottom up" refer to the level of a perceptual system operating in perception. Think
of the sense organ (eye, ear, etc.) as the bottom (lowest level) of a perceptual system and the association
cortex of the brain as the highest level. Top down processing therefore refers to processing based on what is
already in the mind or (highest levels of) the brain. Bottom up processing refers to processing based on what is
in the stimulus array reaching the sense organ. Of course, both normally operate. It is not an either-or matter.
Perhaps the best example of top down processing is reading text. We often read right over typographical
errors in text. Because the preceding text gives us a lot of context information, we know what words to
expect and automatically and unconsciously correct the incorrect letter(s) in the stimulus. If you are given
something to read, in which every fifth word is replaced by a blank, you can fill in a large fraction of the
deleted words (good readers do this much better than poor readers).
This demonstrates that we have expectancies about what words will appear, and these expectancies over-rides
the actual stimulus to the eyes when we miss a typographical error. So a good proof reader must work hard to
avoid expectancies from preventing bottom up processing: perceiving the letters actually on the page (rather
than the expected letters). They do so by avoiding reading for meaning.
The explanation the film gave of the distorted room illusion was a top down explanation. It stated that we
assume rooms are rectangular based on our extensive experience. [For some unexplained reason, our extensive
experience with people remaining the same size doesn't operate here.]
The bottom up alternative, which in my judgment fits the facts better in this case, states that the room was
designed to provide false stimulus information about the shape of the room. The stimulus information told us
that the far corners of the room were equally far away, when in fact the left corner was twice as far as the
right corner. This means that a person in the far corner makes an image in the viewer's eye that is about 1/2
as big as the image a person in the near corner makes.
Because we perceive size by combining image size with distance, we perceive the person walking from the left
corner to the right corner to grow, because her image grows as she actually comes closer to us, but the false
depth cues tell us falsely that she remains the same distance away. Because the image size grows, but the
perceived distance from us remains constance, the woman is perceived to grow in size (when she is actually
coming closer).
To return to the exercise, click on the Back button in the upper left corner of the browser window.
Top-down knowledge is knowing what a target is. When detecting an object, the rate at which you can detect
it (measured via reaction time, or 'RT') is partially dependent on how fast you can identify it based on its
sensory features.
Bottom-up knowledge is integrating recognition of the features, or the dimensions of an object, such as its
color, orientation, and visibility. Neighbouring locations containing items with similar features tend to inhibit
each other, whereas neighbouring locations containing different features tend to activate each other, thus
lending to the saliency of an object. Think of how salient a bright red stop sign is in the dark, and consider why
that may be important to ensure the safety of nighttime drivers.
Once top-down and bottom-up systems have calculated their outputs, they are summed together in a spatially-
guided 'activation map', thus lending itself to perception.
Both are important for object recognition and reaction time. For example, you must use top-down processing
while driving to recognize that a streetlight is a streetlight. You then use bottom-up processing to recognize if
the light is red, green, or yellow. Both are important mechanisms of perceptions to use, so that you can act
appropriately and avoid an accident on the road.
If you are curious and want to read more, this paper examines both top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in
visual search, and may prove useful to you.

In this lesson, you will learn to define top-down processing. Two examples will be provided to help you better
understand the concept as it applies to everyday situations. Following completion of this lesson, you will have
the opportunity to test your knowledge with a short quiz.

Top-Down Processing

Throughout the day, each of us is exposed to a potentially limitless number of sensory experiences. Just stop
wherever you are right now and take a moment to really attune your senses to the environment around you. No
matter where you are or what you're doing, there are multiple sights, sounds, smells, textures, and (if you're
eating) even tastes, all flooding your senses and, subsequently, your brain as we speak. In psychology, these
two separate systems are commonly thought of as sensation and perception. Sensation involves bringing in
information through the five senses, and perception is how our brains make sense of that information.
Psychologists often refer to the way in which our sensation and perception systems work both separately and
together as processing. In general, when it comes to processing in the context of sensation and perception,
two types of processing are commonly described, namely bottom-up processing and top-down processing.
Let's take a closer look at top-down processing.


If you look at a diagram of the central nervous system, you will notice that the brain is literally positioned
higher, or on top, of the sensory systems. Therefore, higher-level cognitive processes, such as thinking, are
considered to be at the top of the sensation and perception process. On the other hand, lower level brain
structures, such as those involved in the sensory systems of vision, touch, or hearing, are considered to be at
the bottom.
Top-down processing refers to how our brains make use of information that has already been brought into the
brain by one or more of the sensory systems. Top-down processing is a cognitive process that initiates with our
thoughts, which flow down to lower-level functions, such as the senses. This is in contrast to bottom-up
processing, which is the process of the senses providing information about the environment up to the brain.


Let's look at a couple of everyday examples that will help you better understand the concept of top-down
If you ever sat around a fire roasting marshmallows as a kid, then you might remember the first time you
learned about the power of fire. No doubt at some point, curiosity got the best of you, and you got a little too

Top-down processing of language happens when someone uses background information to predict the meaning
of language they are going to listen to or read. Rather than relying first on the actual words or sounds (bottom
up), they develop expectations about what they will hear or read, and confirm or reject these as they listen or
read. Top-down processing is thought to be an effective way of processing language; it makes the most of what
the person brings to the situation.
Asking learners to predict what a newspaper article might be about from the headline or first sentence will
encourage them to use top-down processing on the article.
In the classroom
Learners can be encouraged to use both bottom-up and top-down strategies to help them understand a text.
For example in a reading comprehension learners use their knowledge of the genre to predict what will be in
the text (top down), and their understanding of affixation to guess meaning (bottom up).
Bottom-up processing happens when someone tries to understand language by looking at individual meanings or
grammatical characteristics of the most basic units of the text, (e.g. sounds for a listening or words for a
reading), and moves from these to trying to understand the whole text. Bottom-up processing is not thought to
be a very efficient way to approach a text initially, and is often contrasted with top-down processing, which is
thought to be more efficient.
Asking learners to read aloud may encourage bottom-up processing because they focus on word forms, not
In the classroom
Learners can be encouraged to use both bottom-up and top-down strategies to help them understand a text.
For example in a reading comprehension learners use their knowledge of the genre to predict what will be in
the text (top-down), and their understanding of affixation to guess meaning (bottom-up).

Bottom-up vs. Top-down Processing

There are two general processes involved in sensation and perception. Bottom-up processing refers to
processing sensory information as it is coming in. In other words, if I flash a random picture on the screen,
your eyes detect the features, your brain pieces it together, and you perceive a picture of an eagle. What you
see is based only on the sensory information coming in. Bottom-up refers to the way it is built up from the
smallest pieces of sensory information.

Top-down processing, on the other hand, refers to perception that is driven by cognition. Your brain applies
what it knows and what it expects to perceive and fills in the blanks, so to speak. First, let us look at a visual

Look at the shape in the box to the right. Seen alone, your brain engages in bottom-up processing. There are
two thick vertical lines and three thin horizontal lines. There is no context to give it a specific meaning, so
there is no top-down processing involved.

Now, look at the same shape in two different contexts.

Surrounded by sequential letters, your brain expects the shape to be a letter and to complete the sequence.
In that context, you perceive the lines to form the shape of the letter B. Surrounded by numbers, the same
shape now looks like the number 13. When given a context, your perception is driven by your cognitive
expectations. Now you are processing the shape in a top-down fashion.
Next, watch this video for an example of top-down processing with auditory stimuli. Note that at the end, once
you have heard the full sentence, you can understand it even when it is broken up again. A phoneme is just a
basic unit of speech sound.

Watch: Phonemic Restoration Demo / Examples (


To the right is one final example of top-down processing. From a bottom-up perspective, you
should see a bunch of meaningless blobs. However, our brain is wired to detect faces, which, from a
biosociological perspective, is among the most important stimuli in the world. So the floating blob becomes an
eye, and from there we construct a nose and a mouth, and the fact that the picture is labeled as face tells
your brain that is what it is supposed to see. So here is the twist instead of a face, now look at the image and
see a saxophone player wearing a big hat. Some of you may have noticed that from the beginning, but for most,
being told there is another image there will alert your brain to search for the pattern.

So again, with these top-down processing example, your brain adds meaning what you perceive based on what it
knows or expects.

Visit: Perceptual Comparisons ( so that you can describe the general nature of
perceptual contrast. You do not need to focus on the details of perimeters and such, but be able to explain
(using the examples provided) how our perceptual experience is influenced by comparisons that we make.

Finally, check out a demonstration of how top-down processing drives your ability to read.

In this lesson, you'll learn what bottom-up processing is and review some examples of this decision-making
strategy. Then, test your knowledge with a quiz.

Bottom-Up Processing Defined

People are generally encouraged to think before acting; however, you may have found that sometimes you make
good decisions without thinking about them first. For example, if someone offered you your favorite flavor of
ice cream, but it was topped with pickles and hot sauce, chances are you'd be able to turn it down right away
without first having to give it a thought (unless you like that sort of thing). The reason you could reject that
ice cream without first having to stop and think is because of a strategy called bottom-up processing.

Processing Types Compared

Processing is just a shorter way to say taking in information, analyzing it, and drawing conclusions or taking
action. Processing involves the brain, the body, and emotions. There are two types of processing: top-down and
bottom-up. Let's look at our ice cream scenario again.
In top-down processing, your brain is active first. You might think, 'How nice. My friend is offering me ice
cream, and I would like some. I should take that from her. I wonder what kind it is.' This thought leads
to emotions (happy, excited, grateful, curious) and then a response in the body (increased heart rate, smile,
arms reaching out).
Bottom-up processing is simply about the process moving in the opposite direction. First comes the response
in the body (eyes see the bowl and contents; nose smells chocolate, pickles, and hot sauce; stomach churns;
face grimaces; head turns away). This leads to emotion (repulsion, disappointment) and the brain's cognition
and directive for action (thinking, 'That's nasty,' and saying, 'No thank you.'). As you can see from the chart
below, bottom-up processing starts with the body and ends in the brain.

Bottom-Up Processing Flow Chart

Occurrence of Bottom-Up Processing

As you can imagine, bottom-up processing can happen very quickly and with many processes all

Generally speaking, there are two approaches to understanding the process of perception. These are the
top-down processing and the bottom-up processing. What differentiates one from the other? Let's find

Top-Down Processing

Top-down processing is defined as the development of pattern recognition through the use of contextual
information. For instance, you are presented with a paragraph written with difficult handwriting. It is easier
to understand what the writer wants to convey if you read the whole paragraph rather than reading the words
in separate terms. The brain may be able to perceive and understand the gist of the paragraph due to the
context supplied by the surrounding words.

Gregory's Theory

In 1970, psychologist Richard Gregory stated that perception is a constructive process that depends on top-
down processing. He explained that past experience and prior knowledge related to a stimulus help us make
inferences. For Gregory, perception is all about making the best guess or a hypothesis about what we see. In
terms of visual perception, Gregory argues that about 90% of visual information is lost by the time it arrives
in the brain for processing. This event leads to the creation of a perceptual hypothesis about the stimulus,
based on his memory and past experience that may be related to it. When it comes to visual illusions, such as
the Necker tube, Gregory believed that the brain may create incorrect hypotheses, leading to several errors
of perception.

Bottom-Up Processing

In the bottom-up processing approach, perception starts at the sensory input, the stimulus. Thus, perception
can be described as data-driven. For example, there is a flower at the center of a person's field. The sight of
the flower and all the information about the stimulus are carried from the retina to the visual cortex in the
brain. The signal travels in one direction.

Gibson's Theory

Psychologist E.J Gibson criticized the explanation of Gregory regarding visual illusions as they are merely
artificial examples, not images that can be found in a person's normal visual environment. Being a strong
support of the bottom up processing approach, Gibson argued that perception is not subject to hypotheses;
rather, perception is a direct, "What you see is what you get" phenomenon. He explained that our environment
can sufficiently supply details related to the stimulus (e.g. size, shape, distance, etc.), so perception of the
stimulus may not depend on prior knowledge or past experience. Motion parallax supports this argument. When
we travel on a fast moving train, we perceive that objects closer to us pass by faster, while farther objects
pass us slowly. Thus, we are able to perceive the distance between us and the object that pass us by based on
the speed at which they pass.


When an interpretation emerges from the data, this is called data-driven or bottom-up processing.
Perception must be largely data-driven because it must accurately reflect events in the outside world. You
want the interpretation of a scene to be determined mostly by information from the senses, not by your

What is data-driven or bottom-up processing? What is schema-driven or top-down processing?

In many situations, however, your knowledge or expectations will influence perception. This is
called schema-driven or top-down processing. A schema is a pattern formed earlier in your experience.
Larger scale or more abstract concepts are referred to as higher level, while concrete details (such as the
input from the senses) are referred to as lower level. Top-down processing occurs any time a higher-
level concept influences your interpretation of lower level sensory data.

What is set or expectancy?

Top-down processing is shown by the phenomena of set or expectancy. A classic example is the Rat Man of
Bugelski and Alampay (1961).
The "Rat-Man" picture

Subjects saw this picture after viewing earlier slides that showed line drawings of (1) animals, or (2) faces.
Depending on whether they saw animals or faces in previous slides, subjects reported seeing either (1) a
rat or (2) a man wearing glasses. They had been "set" for one or the other interpretation by the preceding
slides. This is a form of top-down processing, in which a schema influences interpretation of the data.

In what respect do cartoons rely upon top-down processing?

Comics and cartoons provide many examples of top-down processing. Simple cues are used to suggest
complex feelings and emotions. Cartoonists have a set of conventions for conveying information about
mental and physical states. Tiny popping bubbles, for example, show drunkenness. Movement is shown by
lines and little puffs of dust trailing after shoes. Spoken language is shown inside a bubble made out of a
continuous line. A silent thought is shown inside a broken line. A sudden idea may be shown as a lightbulb
lighting up over a character's head. Beads of sweat flying off a character show anxiety or physical
exertion. After one gains some experience reading comics, these cues are processed automatically; one is
hardly aware of them.

In what sense do we go "beyond the information given"?

In general, top-down processinginformation processing based on previous knowledge or schemataallows

us to make inferences: to "perceive" or "know" more than is contained in the data. Little cartoon droplets
do not contain the information that a character is working hard. We add that information based upon our
previous experience and knowledge of the conventions of cartooning.
Jerome Bruner titled a book about cognitive development Beyond the Information Given (1972) He was
acknowledging the pivotal role of inference in cognition. We go "beyond the information given" constantly in
our mental processes. We learn to add assumptions and supplemental information derived from past
experience to the evidence of our senses, and that is how we make sense of our world.
Up from the Bottom or Down from the Top?

By Peter McKenzie-Brown

Please click to download a PDF of my book Teach and Learn: Reflections on Communicative Language Teaching.

Psychology long ago began to debate two views top-down interpretation and bottom-up processing of how
we understand language. Although the evidence is ambiguous, researchers generally believe they are distinct
but complementary processes. For language instructors, the debate is less important than an appreciation of
the roles these parallel processes play in classroom teaching and learning.

This discussion argues that good teaching practice accepts both views of language learning. However, their
relative importance largely depends on the skills of the language learner.

To appreciate this, lets begin with points of view. The advocates of top-down interpretation argue that
background knowledge and previous experience of a situation, context, and topic play primary roles in helping us
interpret meaning. We use prior knowledge and experience to anticipate, predict, and infer meaning. By
contrast, the advocates of bottom-up processing believe language relies more heavily on decoding
the sounds and letters of a language into words, clauses, sentences, and such. We then use our knowledge of
grammatical, syntactic and lexical rules to interpret meaning. In this view, language users work from the bottom
the sounds they hear and the letters they encounter to identify meaning.

To put that broad debate into context, consider that the primary focus of communicative language teaching is
to develop communicative competence. CL teachers develop this competence through the use of materials and
activities that focus on using language functions for example, describing people and telling time. Because
native-speakers use higher mental schema when they are processing language, language teachers develop
activities that will enable their second-language learners to do the same. Broadly speaking, activities of these
kinds involve top-down learning skills.

Is this always a good thing? No. Some language teachers are too quick to jump on the top-down bandwagon. In
our view, better teachers are those who strike a conscious balance between top-down and bottom-up learning,
which both have roles in language instruction.

According to Robert Norris, who uses listening activities to illustrate, If werequire (our) students to
use native speaker processing skills without first giving (them) a firm grounding in decoding the stream of
sounds they hear, we run the risk of causing (them) more frustration and confusion than they can handle.

We will return to Norriss thoughtful discussion shortly. In the meantime, remember that bottom-up processing
is particularly important when learners use the receptive language skills of listening and reading, because it
plays a big role in making input comprehensible. And comprehensible input is the engine of effective language

Bottom-up: The bottom-up view assumes that listening is a process of decoding sounds and graphemes (the
letters of the alphabet). We start with the smallest units, and gradually decode them until we understand the
content of what we are listening to or reading.
The number of micro-skills involved is large. For example, when we listen we discriminate among the distinctive
sounds of English, recognize stress patterns and the rhythmic structure of English, and discern how we use
stress and intonation to signal information. Also, we need to identify words in stressed and unstressed positions
and in reduced forms. We also have to recognize grammatical structures and typical word-order patterns.
Meaning and comprehension are the last steps in the decoding process.

When we read, we use the building blocks of language to make meaning of what we see on the printed page.
Bottom-up processes include sounds and graphemes -- the representation of sounds by letters. In English this
involves word recognition for the countless irregular spellings and a sophisticated system of punctuation. We
then need to to process written information through grammar and sentences. From these blocks we build

and Top-down: By contrast, top-down proponents believe that language processing involves the reconstruction
of meaning through prior knowledge or schema.

Listeners actively reconstruct the original meaning of the speaker using incoming sounds and other signals like
body language as clues. Prior knowledge of context and situation enables us to make sense of what we hear. A
native speaker, for example, may completely zone out while hearing the news, then snatch a few brief cues that
quickly draw him in. Similarly, when we begin a phone conversation to make an appointment, we shift into formal
speech-patterns for such situations. This is another instance of schema guiding language use.

We also use schema to help us understand what we are reading. For example, the format of letters, emails and
magazine ads are similar from culture to culture. Their format, whether in the readers first or second
language, provides specific and useful information about what we can be likely to expect. Other top-down skills
include surveying, skimming, scanning, reading for full comprehension, reading between the lines (inference), and
reacting personally to reading texts. Teaching these learning strategies to your intermediate students can
greatly improve their reading comprehension.

The Language Level Issue: In his excellent discussion of top-down and bottom-up teaching, Norris argues that
the teaching communitys eagerness to focus on top-down teaching is sometimes misguided. Many of the
listening materials on the market today are concerned chiefly with helping learners become more adept at
improving top-down skills by having them (identify relevant information while ignoring unnecessary details.)

He adds, In order to simulate the knowledge that native speakers bring to listening, learners are often
provided with vocabulary lists prior to the task and told who the speakers are, what the situation is, and what
the topic is about. However, scant attention is paid to the phonological characteristics that mark informal
speech. This seems a bit like putting the cart before the horse.

Norris makes a strong case that teachers must develop both bottom-up and top-down skills, especially at the
lower levels. Teachers are asking a lot from their students when top-down listening tasks are given without
first assessing the students' ability to do bottom-up processing. His argument is sound. Learners need many
micro-skills learners for bottom-up processing, and a good teacher neglects them at his peril. This applies
especially to beginning and early intermediate students.

Wrap-up: The main conclusion of this discussion is that we need to feed both learning processes when we are
teaching our students.

How and when can we use top-down processing? When you are teaching, make sure your students are aware of
the format and general content of a reading, for example. Tell them they are going to read a ghost story, for
example, and then elicit ideas about what the content might be, what vocabulary might occur, and so on. This
switches on the ghost-story schema in their brains, and also begins activating their English skills. You can do
the same with listening. Tell them you are about to listen to a sports broadcast on the Football World Cup.
Elicit information about football and the vocabulary they might expect to hear, and so on. Also, of course, a CL
teacher is constantly using authentic activities to teach. Thus, a role-play in the restaurant is by its very
nature a top-down comprehension activity.

In these and many other ways, you can take advantage of your students ability to use top-down comprehension
to get them ready for the upcoming learning activity. As your students advance, you can use more sophisticated
top-down schema and strategies.

Bottom-up skills are different. As we have suggested throughout, they are usually more basic and therefore
more important for lower-level students. With those students, you need to spend time helping them recognize
reduced speech, for example, and irregular spellings. In the early stages of language acquisition, automaticity in
word recognition is critical.

Communicative language teaching emulates real-life language acquisition, which means our work has a top-down
bias. Your class needs to use authentic activities and materials to function effectively, and those materials tend
to be top-down. However, focusing exclusively on top-down teaching creates problems. Especially with beginning
students, spend time developing bottom-up skills.

Stages of Reading
Learning to read is like learning
to walk or talk; however, this
process can not be rushed.
Reading is a skill which is built
upon through stages and is an
ongoing process. Every child will
move through each of the five
stages of reading development at
their own pace, when he or she is
ready. Children can not be rushed
or pushed through these stages.

While the progression from one

stage to another is dependent upon
the mastery of the previous stage,
many learners may be operating in
more than one stage during their
school years. The five stages of
reading development are described
Stage O: "Pseudo Reading" or Pre-
reading - Preschool (ages 6
months to 6 years)

pretend reading
retells story from pictures
names alphabet letters
prints own name
plays with books, pencils,
needs to be read to by
someone who responds to
child's interest
most can understand children's
picture books and stories read
to them
can understand thousands of
words they hear by age 6, but
can read few if any of them

Stage 1: Initial Reading and

Decoding -Grade 1 and beginning
Grade 2 (ages 6 and 7)

able to read simple text

containing high-frequency
words and phonically regular
learns relationship between
letters and sounds and
between printed and spoken
sounds out new one-syllable
needs direct instruction and
practice in letter-sound
needs to read simple stories
using simple phonic patterns
and high frequency words
needs to be read to at a
higher level to develop
advanced language patterns,
new words, and ideas
the child's actual reading level
is much below the language
that is undestood when heard
at the end os this stage, most
children understand 6,000 or
more words but can read only
about 600

Stage 2: Confirmation and

Fluency Grades 2 and 3 (ages 7
and 8)

reads simple stories with

increasing fluency
learns to consolidate decoding,
sight vocabulary, & meaning
context to read stories and
needs direct instruction in
advanced decoding skills
needs to be read to at levels
above their own to develop
language, vocabulary and
about 3,000 words can be
9,000 or more words in
listening vocabulary
listening is still more effective
than reading

Stage 3: Reading for Learning the

New Grades 4-8 (ages 9-13)

may be responsible for reading

independently to: learn new
ideas, gain new knowledge,
experience new feelings and
generally from one viewpoint
will be reading/studying
textbooks, reference books,
trade books, newspapers,
being exposed to unfamiliar
vocabulary and syntax
systematic study of words
reacting to text through
discussions and writing
reading of more complex
fiction, non-fiction, etc.

Stage 4: Multiple Viewpoints -

High School, grades 10-12 (ages

reading widely from a broad

range of complex materials -
expository and narrative
able to deal with multiple
systematic study of words and
word parts
formal and creative writing
reading comprehension is
better than listening
comprehension of difficult
for poorer readers listening
compreension may be equal to

Stage 5: Construction and

Reconstruction - College and
beyond (age 18+)

reading is used for one's own

needs and purposes
serves to integrate one's
knowledge wit that of others
to synthesize and create new
it is rapid and efficient
wide reading of more difficult
needs to be writing papers,
tests, essays that call for
integration of varied knowledge
and points of view
reading is more efficient than

What Is Reading?
Reading is defined as a cognitive process that involves decoding symbols to arrive at meaning. Reading is an
active process of constructing meanings of words. Reading with a purpose helps the reader to direct information
towards a goal and focuses their attention. Although the reasons for reading may vary, the primary purpose of
reading is to understand the text. Reading is a thinking process. It allows the reader to use what he or she may
already know, also called prior knowledge. During this processing of information, the reader uses strategies to
understand what they are reading, uses themes to organize ideas, and uses textual clues to find the meanings of
new words. Each of the three components of reading is equally important. Let's take a look at the components!

The Reading Process

Reading is a process that involves recognizing words, leading to the development of comprehension. According
to research, reading is a process that negotiates the meaning between the text and its reader. The reading
process involves three stages.
The first is the pre-reading stage, which allows the reader to activate background knowledge, preview the text,
and develop a purpose for reading. A strategy for students to utilize during this stage is to look at the title of the
selection and list all the information that comes to mind about the title.
The second stage occurs during reading, when the reader makes predictions as they read and then confirms or
revises the predictions. For example, double-entry journal enable the reader to write the text from the reading on
one side and their personal reaction on the other side.
The final stage occurs after reading and allows the reader to retell the story, discuss the elements of a story,
answer questions and/or compare it to another text. For example, students can create summaries, where they
take a huge selection and reduce it to its main points for more concise understanding.
Comprehension is an intentional, active, and interactive process that occurs before, during and after a person
reads a particular piece of writing.

Reading Comprehension
Reading comprehension has two elements that complete the process. The first element is vocabulary knowledge.
The reader must be able to understand the vocabulary used by the writer. The second element is text
comprehension, where the reader puts together the vocabulary and different comprehension strategies to
develop an understanding of the text. Comprehension, or the mental process that allows the reader to
understand the text, begins before the reader starts the text and continues even after the reading has finished.
There are some specific strategies that can be used to increase comprehension:

1. Skimming, or allowing the reader to glance over the material to gain an overall view of text.


Principles of Bottom-up and Top-down Processing:

Bottom-up Processing

1. It focuses on individual linguistic components of discourse.

2. Comprehension is viewed as a process ofdecoding messages proceeding from phonemes to words, to phrases and
clauses and other grammatical elements, to sentences.

Top-down Processing

-It focuses on macro-features of discourse such as the speaker's purpose and thediscourse topic.

-Comprehension is viewed as a process ofactivating the listener's background information and schemata* (i.e.
prior knowledge about the context and the topic) for a global understanding of the message.

Bottom-up Activities and Top-down Activities in Teaching Listening Skills:

Bottom-up Activities

1. Identify sounds or lexical items according to their linguistic function.

2. Use phonological cues to distinguish between positive and negative sentences or statements and questions.

3. These activities are designed to help learners develop their phonological, lexical, and grammatical knowledge.
4. These activities are often used for learning phonics and pronunciation practice.


- American English Pronunciation Practice

- Emily's Pronunciation Class

Top-down Processing

-It focuses on macro-features of discourse such as the speaker's purpose and thediscourse topic.

-Comprehension is viewed as a process ofactivating the listener's background information and schemata* (i.e.
prior knowledge about the context and the topic) for a global understanding of the message.

Bottom-up Activities and Top-down Activities in Teaching Listening Skills:

Bottom-up Activities

1. Identify sounds or lexical items according to their linguistic function.

2. Use phonological cues to distinguish between positive and negative sentences or statements and questions.

3. These activities are designed to help learners develop their phonological, lexical, and grammatical knowledge.

4. These activities are often used for learning phonics and pronunciation practice.


- American English Pronunciation Practice

- Emily's Pronunciation Class

Top-down Activities

1. Identify the speaker's communicative purpose or the main idea of discourse.

2. Use schemata to infer the contextual information from the heard speech or conversation.

3. These activities are designed to help learners develop their pragmatic and discourse knowledge.

4. These activities are often used for improving communicative skills focusing on meaning rather than form.


- Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab

- John's ESL Community - Listening Activities

They have a good short term memory, but they forget very quickly (Jimnez Cataln, 1998).

They love games, songs, singing, dancing, nursery rhymes with repetition and movements, and stories (with familiar
elements, or well known characters). Stories should be repeated with repeated sentences which they can anticipate
and have a happy end. Young learners have.
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Chall on Stages of Reading Development

Noted early childhood education theorist Jeanne Chall lays out her stages of reading development.

Stage 0. Prereading: Birth to Age 6. The Pre-reading Stage covers a greater period
of time and probably covers a greater series of changes than any of the other stages (Bissex, 1980). From birth until the beginning
of formal education, children living in a literate culture with an alphabetic writing system accumulate a fund of knowledge about
letters, words, and books. The children grow in their control over various aspects of languagesyntax and words. And they gain
some insights into the nature of words: that some sound the same at their ends or beginnings (rhyme and alliteration), that they can
be broken into parts, and that the parts can be put together (synthesized, blended) to form whole words.
Stage 1. Initial Reading, or Decoding, Stage: Grades 1-2, Ages 6-7. The essential aspect of Stage 1 is learning the arbitrary set
of letters and associating these with the corresponding parts of spoken words. In this stage, children and adults interiorize cognitive
knowledge about reading, such as what the letters are for, how to know that bun is not bug, and how to know when a mistake is
made. This stage has been referred to pejoratively as a guessing and memory game, or as grunting and groaning, mumbling
and bumbling, or barking at print, depending on whether the prevailing methodology for beginning reading instruction is a sight or
a phonic approach. The qualitative change that occurs at the end of this stage is the insight gained about the nature of the spelling
system of the particular alphabetic language used.
Stage 2. Confirmation, Fluency, Ungluing from Print: Grades 2-3, Ages 7-8.6. Essentially, reading in Stage 2 consolidates what
was learned in Stage 1. Reading stories previously heard increases fluency. Stage 2 reading is not for gaining new information, but
for confirming what is already known to the reader. Because the content of what is read is basically familiar, the reader can
concentrate attention on the printed words, usually the most common, high-frequency words. And with the basic decoding skills and
insights interiorized in Stage 1, the reader can take advantage of what is said in the story and book, matching it to his or her
knowledge and language. Although some additional, more complex phonic elements and generalizations are learned during Stage 2
and even later, it appears that what most children learn in Stage 2 is to use their decoding language, and the redundancies of the
stories read. They gain courage and skill in using context and thus gain fluency and speed.
Stage 3. Reading for Learning the New: A First Step. When readers enter Stage 3, they start on the long course of reading to
learn the newnew knowledge, information, thoughts and experiences. Because their background (world) knowledge, vocabulary,
and cognitive abilities are still limited at this stage, the first steps of Stage 3 reading are usually best developed with materials and
purposes that are clear, within one viewpoint, and limited in technical complexities. This is in contrast to Stage 4 where multiplicity of
views, complexity of language and ideas, as well as subtleties of interpretation are the expected.
Stage 4. Multiple Viewpoints: High School, Ages 1418. The essential characteristic of reading in Stage 4 is that it involves
dealing with more than one point of view. For example, in contrast to an elementary school textbook on American history, which
presupposes Stage 3 reading, the textbook at the high-school level requires dealing with a variety of viewpoints. Compared to the
textbooks in the lower grades, the increased weight and length of high-school texts no doubt can be accounted for by greater depth
of treatment and greater variety in points of view. Stage 4 reading may essentially involve an ability to deal with layers of facts and
concepts added on to those acquired earlier. These other viewpoints can be acquired, however, because the necessary knowledge
was learned earlier. Without the basic knowledge acquired in Stage 3, reading materials with multiple viewpoints would be difficult.
Stage 5. Construction and ReconstructionA World View: College, Age 18 and Above. When Stage 5 is reached, one has
learned to read certain books and articles in the degree of detail and completeness that one needs for ones purpose, starting at the
end, the middle, or the beginning. A reader at Stage 5 knows what not to read, as well as what to read. To reach this stage is to be
able to use selectively the printed material in those areas of knowledge central to ones concern. Whether all people can reach
Stage 5 reading, even at the end of four years of college, is open to study.