Proficient Readers: Everything You Need to Know

This is a reader that employs methods and has the reading ability that is right for their grade or age. Proficient readers can decode sound-letter arrangements, put sounds into words, and comprehend word meanings and how words merge to generate meaning. Even in countries with acclaimed and successful education systems, a significant percent of the population don’t know how to read proficiently. Learning to read proficiently relies on the brain completely integrating what an individual knows about spoken language with what the person learns about written language.

In 2000, a literature review conducted by the National Reading Panel identified the skillsets that influence reading development. Additional research has confirmed that when kids develop knowledge in those areas, they’re more likely to be proficient readers. These skills include:

Phonemic awareness: It refers to understanding the sounds in words and being able to hear and recognize the individual sounds that form a word. It’s primarily an auditory skill of recognizing and distinguishing a language’s sound structure. Identifying the individual sounds in a word is difficult due to the seamless nature of spoken language. According to research, kids with poor phonemic awareness struggle with spelling and reading. People who don’t distinguish sounds within spoken words have difficulty identifying the link between print and sound important to proficient reading.

Knowledge of the phonetic code: Students need to understand the complete phonetic code. Knowing the basic alphabet isn’t sufficient. They need to know vowel sounds, vowel combinations, r-controlled vowels, consonant digraphs, and other complexities that comprise most printed words.

Fluency: Fluent readers can read accurately and quickly without effort. Fluency is critical to comprehension and skilled reading. Students who cannot use correct phonological processing don’t develop fluency. Effective reading instructions can help students develop fluency. First, teachers should establish correct phonological processing of print. Then they should provide guided practice, so students repeatedly sound out individual words, allowing them to read more words effortlessly and quickly.

Vocabulary: Expanding students’ vocabulary is important to comprehension and reading development. The greater their vocabulary, the easier it’s to understand and make sense of the text.

Comprehension: Comprehension refers to deriving meaning from the text and is extremely important to developing skilled reading. It’s an active process that needs proper interaction between the text and the reader. To achieve comprehension, students need to build fluency and develop correct phonological decoding skills. While students acquire some comprehension strategies informally, formal or explicit instruction related to comprehension strategies has been proved to be highly useful in enhancing understanding.

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