Language at the Speed of Sight
384 pages
2018
ISBN: 9781541617155

Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can't, and What Can Be Done About It

$26.99, Paperback
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Mark Seidenberg

According to leading cognitive scientist, Mark Seidenberg, we've been teaching reading wrong. The latest science reveals how we can do it right.

The way we teach reading is not working, and it cannot continue. We have largely abandoned phones-based reading instruction, despite research that supports its importance for word recognition. Children aren't taught basic print skills because educators cling to the disproved theory that good readers guess the words in texts, a strategy that encourages skimming instead of close reading. Interventions for children with reading disabilities are delayed because parents are mistakenly told their kids will catch up if they work harder. Learning to read is more difficult for children who speak a minority dialect in the home, but that is not reflected in classroom practices. And while we press children to develop large vocabularies because we think being a good reader means knowing more words, studies have found that a large vocabulary is only an indication of better pattern recognition.

In Language at the Speed of Sight, internationally renowned cognitive scientist Mark Seidenberg explains that understanding the science of reading is more important than ever–for us, and for our children. Seidenberg helps us do so by drawing on cutting-edge research in machine learning, linguistics, and early childhood development. As Seidenberg shows, the disconnect between science and education is a major factor in chronic underachievement. How we teach reading places many children at risk of failure, discriminates against poorer kids, and discourages even those who could have become more successful readers. By building on science's insights, we can improve how our children read, and take real steps toward solving the inequality that illiteracy breeds.

Language at the Speed of Sight offers an erudite and scathing examination of this most human of activities, and concrete proposals for how our society can produce better readers. Essential reading for parents, educators, policy makers, and all others who want to understand why so many fail to read, and how to change that.

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