This was the first question… does anyone have anything to add? Please leave a comment.
What is the difference between receptive vocabulary and expressive vocabulary?
Discuss this in relation to both speaking & listening and reading & writing.
by Julie Baister
In terms of definitions, Receptive language skills are the ability to understand information. This involves understanding words, sentences and the meaning of what others say or what is read.
Expressive language skills are the ability to put thoughts into words and sentences, in a way that makes sense and is grammatically accurate.
At the vocabulary level, Receptive Vocabulary refers to all the words that can be understood by a person, including spoken, written, or even manually signed words.
In contrast, Expressive Vocabulary refers to the words that a person can express or produce, for example, by speaking or writing them in a grammatically acceptable manner. Continue reading this article… »
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Back in 2012, did a dyslexia assessment on a young man who I shall call John. John was in his second year of sixth form and applying to university to study history. John’s exam grades the previous year were below his predicted ones. As a result of the assessment, John had extra time in his module exams (and subsequenctly went to university!).
John’s reading profile is interesting. He came out above average for word recognition and comprehension (using WIAT-II-UK-T) but his reading speed of 127 words per minute (wpm) is below average for his age. His scores in CTOPP were all average, as was his reading of non-words (TOWRE-2). I concluded that he did not have any significant problems with phonological processing, though he did show some signs of challenge with focus and attention (his speed of writing was also adversely affected by having to think abut what to write, rather than because of any difficulty with manual dexterity).
What was also notable was that John invariably chose to read aloud (to the annoyance of some of his classmates). I was intrigued about why he had got into this habit and volunteered a few hours of support during half term to look into this more.
Between the feedback on the assessment and our support session, John actually decided to go for reading silently and was happy with the result! Issue sorted? Maybe yes, maybe no. I carried on.
I decided to use an experimental method with a pre-test, post-test format, even with just 3 hours of intervention between. Using passages deemed to be A level standard (one from Klein 2003 and one of my own devising, measured to be of similar readability), John read at 153 wpm – already an improvement from reading silently – but his comprehension and recall was limited (I predicted this might be a spin off of not getting the auditory feedback loop to hold attention).
In the post-test, three hours later John achieved a reading speed of 182 wpm,and his recall covered a wider range of the passage… so what did I do in between? What would you have done? Press “read more” after you have had a think!
Continue reading this article… »
There were some really big names at the BDA conference in 2016, many of them world experts on reading (though still no one who talks specifically about adults). Here are a few highlights, one “so-what” and one lowlight for me:
- In a recent study, Susan Gathercole had been looking at underlying factors that might explain difficulties with reading, vocabulary and maths, concentrating on executive function, working memory and inattention. Perhaps surprisingly she found that poor working memory is not a good predictor of reading difficulty. However, good working memory may be a protective factor for problems with reading and maths.
- Karin Landerl, researching German speaking children was surprised to find a link between problems with reading and maths but not between reading and spelling. She was still not sure of the reason for this. Relevant to my work with adults, a longitudinal study showed that reading difficulties are persistent through childhood, despite support. Even more reason for us to find new approaches for adults!
- Tom Nicholson was speaking to the converted in urging us to combine phonics with real reading. He did however drop in a controversial point. Phonological awareness may be a consequence of reading acquisition, rather than a requirement for reading. His keynote address gave a historical overview about the impact on phonological awareness training on success in acquiring reading skills, with little input from more recent studies. He comes from the point of view of “liking phonics and enjoying giving phonics instruction.” However, in his last but one slide he cited research from Castles and Coltheart (2004), Ehri (1998), Johnston and Watson (2005) to say that this could be an issue of chicken and egg. Maybe we see good phonemic awareness in successful readers, not because they have been specifically trained in this, but because the process of learning to read itself gives a degree of phonemic awareness. He reminded us of studies denying the effect of phonemic awareness training, though these are well outweighed by the studies that show a positive effect. Finally, he made the remark (without a formal reference) that phonemic awareness training should be combined with reading of text to help improve letter-sound awareness.
- Don Compton has investigated more about comprehension and found a positive link between reading/listening comprehension and prior knowledge. Is this surprising?
- A new version of the Adult Reading Test (ART) was due out soon, with improvements. Rob Fidler pleased me by mentioning not just their extensive validation data, but also case study findings that highlight the strength of a diagnostic problem solving approach to reading support, using qualitative observations from testing.
- I have to confess to having been very excited at the prospect of hearing Elena Grigorenko speak for the first time (having heard her co-author on the Dyslexia Debate, Joe Elliott previously). I was less excited at the prospect of Maggie Snowling, as I have heard her many times and been disappointed in her narrow stance on reading and dyslexia. At the BDA international conference in March 2016, however, I was proved wrong. Grigorenko was boring and uninspiring, spending far too long on the historical context and then whizzing through some rather difficult information from her latest research about mapping the phenotype of reading difficulty to specific points in the genome. We were told of exciting news coming out in a journal soon… (too hush, hush for her to share it)
- By contrast, Maggie Snowling brought well-reasoned insights into her now more balanced view of dyslexia, as broader phenotype that includes underlying language difficulties and possible co-occurring difficulties in motor and executive function (including attention and concentration). Her account of longitudinal studies (so far from age 3.5 to age 9) was fascinating. I do hope she and her group carry on to see those children into early adulthood!.
Elliott, J.G. and Grigorenko, E.L (2014) The Dyslexia Debate, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
I have just finished reading this book, which, it is fair to say, has caused and possibly courted some controversy in the media as well as in academic circles and among practitioners. Even before it was published, there were two excellent commentaries on it by academics who had clearly obtained advance copies:
Dorothy Bishop of St John’s College Oxford
Anne Castles, Kevin Whedall and Mandy Nayton from universities in Australia
They are both well-reasoned arguments for why we should read the book and respect its evidence base, though not necessarily agree with its ultimate conclusion that the term dyslexia should no longer be used.
Here are my thoughts.
- The first thing to say about this book is that it provides a really comprehensive review of the literature, both historical accounts and up to the minute research in this field. I haven’t ever seen such an extensive list of references in a book that is targetted at a lay audience as well as academics. It will form an excellent resource. I wish I had had such a good list of sources when I was completing my doctorate!
- It also has a useful reminder of how the notion of dyslexia as a discrepancy between high IQ and reading ability is “largely discredited.” (p 69) This cannot be said often enough, both on ethical grounds, and also for practical reasons, as “the use of the IQ test as a proxy for cognitive potential is itself highly contested. ” (p 101) Intelligence tests are such blunt instruments for coming to any diagnostic conclusions.
- The authors use this point to bolster their argument for abandoning the term dyslexia, since some individuals and their parents seek to claim dyslexia, if linked to high IQ, erroneously, as a way of showing they or their children are not just slow at learning. However, in my mind, this is stretching the logic. If people have false beliefs about the nature of dyslexia, then put them right! No need to discard the term, just because peole use it incorrectly.
- This book gives a really thorough account of the different theories of the aetiology for dyslexia. In particular, it is refreshing that the authors note that “phonological awareness appears to be rather less important for older poorer readers than it is for children… ” (p 196). This is certainly something that I have said all along from my experience and research with adults.
- There is a great discussion about the relationship of working memory to reading (pp 233 – 239), and in particular some insights into the role of phonological memory as opposed to phonological awareness. Elliott and Grigorenko draw on the research of Wagner, one of co-authors of the CTOPP and TOWRE tests we use, which actually casts doubt on the influence of phonological memory on word recognition, except when dealing with multisyllabic words. They also question ” the value of digit span tasks as the particular tasks may not generalise well to tasks such as reading” (p 234). I have always said that the three composite scores and their subtests in CTOPP measure different things and can give rise to really discrepant scores in adults.
- On a more general level, Elliott and Grigorenko make the useful point that there are vast differences in the research literature in the way dyslexia is assessed, and the cut-off points (in terms of standard deviations below the norm) that are chosen to define subjects who are dyslexic. This makes it very difficult to generalise from research findings.
- They also point out how difficult it is to compare the different intervention tools used and their effect sizes in the research literature, for a similar reason; we are not comparing like with like.
- The concluding chapter of this book is convincing in many aspects… why stop to worry about whether it is dyslexia or not if you could spend your time more efficiently as an assessor and/or practitioner in making recommendations for more effective support. The authors remind us of the need to go beyond just word reading when assessing an individual’s reading ability, yet they seem wary of profiling as a strategy for assessment of need and appear particularly resistant to the notion that dyslexia can confer strengths.
- So finally their overall message…they seem to say that the term dyslexia is not useful because no one can agree what it is. They want it to be somthing to do with a reading disorder and are resistent to the idea that it could encompass anything else. They are wary of all of the divergent theories of aetiology. They want practioners to concentrate their efforts on effective intervention…
- In addition to the counter arguments raised by the blogs mentioned above, I have one further point.: How do you account for the experience of adults assessed as dyslexic, where we often discover it is more than a reading disorder? Adults with dyslexia (whether diagnosed as children or newly as adults) usually have a history of idiosyncratic acquisition of literacy skills including reading. They may no longer manifest any problems with word recognition, but there are residual effects, which it useful to profile. So I would commend Elliot and Gregorenko to ponder more on the field of adult dyslexia and also look at specialist teacher assessment reports for adults are really rich in unique profiling and detailed recommendations for support. High quality asessment and individualised interventions, which impact on success in FE, HE and employment, might convince them that the term dyslexia is a useful one.
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I packed a lot into the second day of the conference and also met up with some old friends – Clare Trott the dyscalculia expert from Loughborough and Desi Madelin, an ADDS graduate from Leicester, who is doing a great job managing learning support at the college there, as well as taking an interest in the research side at this conference. I also encountered people who are really interested in what we do at Dyslexia Positive…
Usha Goswami got us off to an excellent start with a really clear presentation of the latest direction her research is taking. For me it made an obvious link with my interest in dyslexia and music. She is reinforcing the importance of seeing that pre school children are exposed to rhyme and rhythm as a precursor to the ability to perceive and distinguish features of speech sounds. The ability to distinguish features of sounds, particularly at low frequencies is a good predictor of future ability in word recognition and also shows up as impaired in dyslexic children.
I then went into a very exciting workshop on collaboration, curiosity and creativity in Maths teaching, given by the Edghill University team. Their delivery style in the workshop illustrated their point brilliantly as we all got immersed in the activities. A real buzz!
Less exciting was the after lunch keynote speech by Michele Mazzocco from the University of Minesota. She badly lost track of time in explaining her thoughts about the difference between dyscalculia and low ability in Maths, so we didn’t really get onto the salient points. She did, however, remind us to recognise the individual differences in learners who take different paths towards competence in Maths.
I spent the afternoon in a double workshop on IT applications for dyslexia. it was a delivered at a cracking pace, with me struggling to capture all of the great ideas on my new iPad… so many great ideas that I will write more fully about this later…and give you the link to the BDAtech web side where you can get the workshop notes yourself…
Sadly I had to miss Day 3 in favour of singing with Birmingham Bach Choir tonight!
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Stein, J. and Kapoula, Z. (2012) Visual Aspects of Dyslexia, Oxford, OUP.
This book, published last autumn is a hard but very rewarding read. I remember struggling to understand the magnocellular theory of dyslexia, as presented in the work of Professor John Stein, when doing my diploma qualification and later endeavouring to put the information across when teaching on the same diploma programme.
The book illustrates well how the theory behind visual facets of dysexia has developed, been debated furiously, drawn antagonists as well as advocates, widened in its applicability and still draws passionate and well-reasoned responses from its supporters.
John Stein and his co-editor Zoi Kapoula (based in Paris) have brought together a range of neuroscientists and researchers with a specialism in ophthalmology, each writing a chapter, which stands alone but together forms a story of the ramifications of this subject. Stein provides a summary chapter of his own, bringing us up to date on his current stance.
Some highlights for me are as follows: Continue reading this article… »
I am at the 8th International Conference of the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) this week in Harrogate.
I gave a short talk on my reading research. You can download the powerpoint if you click here, though it doesn’t do justice to some of my off the cuff remarks! Sue Partridge BDA conference
A few random thoughts…
1. Why is the majority of the research on dyslexia I have heard presented so far based on a a narrow definition of dyslexia as phonological processing difficulties and reading deficits; related to children or higher achieving university students; and based on large sample quantitative findings…? Do they miss something on individual differences?
2. Do researchers pay too much attention to statisitical significance in reporting their findings and not enough on validity and test error in the assessments they use?
More tomorrow from Day 2 of the conference.One Comment »
Mind’s Eye Spelling
Mind’s Eye spelling is a visual spelling strategy. I first used Mind’s Eye Spelling with a mature dyslexic learner with auditory processing difficulties. For years he had tried to spell words, unsuccessfully, by sounding them out. Using Mind’s Eye Spelling he was able to learn how to spell specific words and more importantly could remember how to spell the words.
Write the word the learner wants to spell.
Ask the learner to split the word into chunks. Do not worry about syllables.
dyslexia dy sle xia
With the learner looking at the word, get the learner to say the whole word and then say the letters in each chunk. Ask the learner to do this several times, getting them to say the chunks in different orders, for example:
- say the letters in the last chunk (x,i,a)
- say the letters in the first chunk (d,y)
- say the letters in the middle chunk (s,l,e)
With the learner still looking at the word ask the learner questions about the letters in the different chunks, for example:
- What is the first letter of the middle chunk?
- What is the last letter of the first chunk?
- What letter comes after x?
Ask the learner if they can see the word in their head. If they can’t, continue with steps 3 and 4 until they can. When they can, ask them to close their eyes and visualise the word. Ask them to say the letters in the different chunks and ask them the same type of questions in step 4.
With their eyes still closed ask the learner to spell the word out loud. If they get it correct, ask them to spell the word backwards. When the learner can do this ask them to open their eyes and write the word down.
- It is important to allow the learner time to absorb each chunk.
- Provide prompts where necessary.
- Do not try and get the learner to learn too many words at once. For some learners one word per week may be enough.