[Spelling Progress Bulletin, Summer 1982 pp2-4,1.]
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[Emmett Betts: see Anthology, Bulletins.]

Reading: Orthography and Word Perception

Special Interest Group
27th Annual Convention, I.R.A.
Chicago Conrad Hilton, Williford B.
Thursday, Apr. 29, 1982, 9:00-11:45 A.M.

All participants are available to discuss the following or other questions addressing the topic, including those posed by conferees. Everyone attending this session is invited to participate.

Basic Assumptions.

Is phonics for reading or is it for spelling? (Zintz)
What factors contribute to effective word perception? (Betts)
Personal need and other facets of motivation
Readability of material
Independent (individualized) reading level
Instructional (individual or group) reading level
Grammatical, or linguistic (morphology or syntax)
 d.Chunking, or grouping, in terms of phonograms
CV (e.g., chi of chip) and VC (e.g., -ip of chip)
Pronounceable units of a word
Learning set
Contrast; e.g. minimum pairs (cat-hat, bat-bit),
Closure, perceptual or cognitive
Self-image (positive self-perception)


3. Chomsky and Halle claimed that English has a "near optimal" spelling system. What evidence supports this claim? What evidence refutes this claim? What are the educational implications? (Barnitz)
4. What are the limitations and advantages of phonic generalizations? (Roe)
Differences in ":generalizations" and "rules"
Applicability of a particular generalization
Importance of accent (stress) within words on pronunciation of syllables
Importance of accent within sentences on pronunciation of function words (e.g., a, the, an)
5.Given current theories of reading based on psycholinguistics and cognitive psychology, what is the role of orthography in the "interactive" reading process and the "interactive" learning to read process? (Barnitz)
6. What are the limitations of phonic rules? (Betts)
Application/exception ratios; e.g., the "final-e rule in take versus have
Ambiguity of rules; e.g., controlled r usually expressed as, "'If only one vowel is followed by r, the sound is usually governed by r."
Consonant r, as in red, bread, street
Vowel /ər/, stressed (fern, hurt, shirt) and unstressed /mother, harbor, dollar), both /murder)
 (3) Centering diphthongs
/är/ as in star, /oar/ as in pair, /ōr/ as in door
/ar/ as in carry, /ur/ as in poor, /it/ as in spirit
/iər/ as in here, /īər/ as in fire, /eər/ as in care,
/our/ as in our, /yur/ as in cure (triphthong)
 c.Effect of syllable stress on applicability of phonic rules; e.g., "present a gift" versus "receive a present"
 d.Effect of phrase stress on applicability of phonic rules; special perception problems of function words (e.g., and /"and, and, an/
7.What are the relationships between phonic rules and/ or spelling patterns? (Betts)
 a.Closed-syllable words in beginning reading materials, as in at-cat, cap-rap?
 b.Initial teaching medium for beginning reading?
8.Why do the preponderence of words in beginning reading tend to be exceptions to the phonic rules? What are the implications? (Betts)
9.What are the differences, if any, between spelling patterns (a la Bloomfield) and vowel "rules"? (Betts)


10.Is there a relationship between the speed of reading of beginners, their intonation patterns, and their comprehension? (Mason).
11.Do modified alphabets (UNIFON, i.t.a., etc.) adversely affect spelling? (Berg).
12.Comparing various types of writing systems (alphabets, syllabaries, logographies), what are the properties which facilitate or impede learning to read in a first language? In a second language? (Barnitz).
13.What is the role of orthographic characteristics in the transfer of literacy from one language to another (e.g., from French to English, from Arabic to English, from Chinese to Arabic, etc.)? (Barnitz).
14.Do siblings show closer spelling traits than do random samplings of children? (Berg).
15.What do experiments show about word perception or various proposals for spelling reform or i.t.m.'s by (a) learners, (b) fluent English readers, if they are given a key to the spelling principles? Are some much easier to read quickly than others? If so, why? (Yule).

Pupil Learning.

16.How are early concepts of print (e.g., concepts of a "word") related to the development of spelling ability? Of word perception?] (Hoffman).
17. What are the relationships between spelling, word perception, and concept development? (Wolfe).
18. Reversals of both letters and words are not uncommon. What are some specific measurers to correct this? Are there measures which can be taken to prevent this problem from developing? (Terrill).
19. How much direct correlation is there between spelling levels and reading levels? If there is a correlation, does it mean anything? (Ginyard).
20. What relation do learning modes - auditory, visual, kinesthetic, hapatic - have on learning to spell? (Berg) Is spelling primarily a visual or auditory function? (Berg).
21. The perception of syllables is one of the most useful tools which a reader can have to produce manageable units both for spellings in reading and spelling for writing. What phonetic [phonemic] principles need to he learned before it is practical to learn syllabication and to use it efficiently? (Terrill).
22. What about the students who "can't do" phonics? They are given a phonics workbook year after year and many times are turned off to reading. What can be done to help these students turn on to the idea of reading and begin to learn to read? (Terrill)
23. What is the relationship between phonic skills and word perception skills? (Betts).
24. How can word perception be made automatic in the ongoing processes of reading? (Betts).
25.What restraints influence word perception? (Betts)
Phonotactics; e.g., s /s/ in likes versus s /z/ in boys
Graphotactic; e.g., gemination as in happy
Syntactic; e.g., word order
Morphological; e.g., n(a)tion versus n(a)tional, Congress versus congressional
Pragmatic; e.g., reader's reaction
Semantic; e.g., shifts in meaning as in home run, run a meeting, run for office, run two miles, etc.
26.Can words be learned best when presented with pictures or context clues, or when presented without such clues? (Roe)
27.What are beginning readers' concepts of letters, words, sounds, and how should these affect instruction? (Roe)
28.What are beginning readers' understandings of other concepts (such as beginning, middle, ending, etc.) related to reading and how do these affect instruction? (Roe)
29. Do good readers tend to use primarily text-driven or primarily concept-driven word identification strategies? Which strategies are used by poor readers? (Roe)
30.What happens to a speaker of non-standard dialect when literacy is based on English spellings with standard English pronunciations (e.g., pin-pen, tin-ten) ? (Ginyard)
31.How can confusion in reading capital and lowercase letters be minimized for beginners? (Gg, Aa, Qq, Bb, Dd) For some children this is a problem through third grade. (Ginyard)
32. What may be done to help or correct the child who must spell each word that he reads? Is this a serious problem? Is it indicative of a learning disability? (Ginyard)
33.It is said that the ability to read letters and numbers is the best predictor of a pupil's achievement (success) in beginning reading. Is this accurate? If it is, why? (Terrill)
34. Other authorities state that the ability to write the alphabet is the best "reading readiness" test. What abilities are involved in this "test"? Are all of these abilities necessary in learning to read? (Terrill)
35.What are the minimum rules ar understandings involving phonics and word structure that are really necessary and useful? (Terrill)
36.What types of perceptual learning are essential for effective reading? (Betts)
Category learning; e.g., hat-lap, pig-sit
Cue learning; e.g., aw of saw, draw; ar of car, far
Probability learning; e.g., oo in look versus room
Alternation learning; e.g., n(a)tion-n(a)tional
37.In a program of preparation for beginning reading, what specific learnings (components) are critical? (Betts)
 a.How to insure concept of a word; e.g., /hē/ is he
 b.How to insure concept of a speech sound; e.g., /ē/ in he, me, we
 c.How to develop visual-motor skills relevant to perception of geometric forms called letters of the alphabet
 d.How to develop concepts, in diverse areas of experience, which yield vocabulary
38. What words are selected for study by the learner? (Betts)
Who identifies the need?
Who keeps the record of the need? Pupil or teacher?
39.How helpful are prefixes [affixes] to words for finding the meaning of a word? (Berg)
40.What role does spelling contribute to concept development? (Wolfe)
41. Is there a relationship between reading ability and spelling problems which children may have? (Ginyard)
42.What is the relationship between "developmental age" (i.e., considerations such as the Piagetian concept. of "conservation" as it relates to successful mental operations with whole-part relationships, and the limitations of short-term memory) and an optimal age for learning to spell? [Implications for word perception?] (Roberts).
43.Is there such a thing as a "spelling aptitude" - or conversely, a predisposition to spelling disability? What evidence can be cited to support or refute such phenomena? (Roberts).
44.Is the major reason why fluent readers use a wide variety of word perception techniques -phonotactic, graphotactic, syntactic, morphological, pragmatic, and sementic because English spelling is so inconsistent that one has to use whatever one can grab to decode such a muddled mixture of inconsistent principles and exceptions? (Yule).
45.Why do phonic rules stated as high-level abstractions frustrate pupil attempts at understanding? (E.g., the short-vowel rule for a in sat, e in pet, i in hit, o in not, u in but; the split-digraph rule for made, these, kite, hope, use; the digraph rule for pail, each, boat, etc.) (Betts)


46.Are technical terms such as vowel, consonant, digraph, blend, etc. necessary for reading instruction? Do they help in any way? (Roe)
47.Is the use of the terms vowel and consonant essential to the teaching of reading? For beginners? (Betts)
48.What are some advantages and disadvantages of analytic versus synthetic phonics? (Roe)
49.Is the practice harmful when, in teaching phonics, the teacher voices the single letter sounds of b, p, d, t, etc. by adding the short "a" sound? (Berg)
50.What is the evidence on the effectiveness of analytic (whole word) versus synthetic (blending) phonics? (Betts)
 a.Beacon initial blend method; e.g., ha- of hat, ca of cat as pronounceable units to reduce distortion between phonogram and word
 b.Aldine final blend method; e.g., -at of hat, -at of cat as pronounceable units to reduce distortion between phonogram and word
 c.Phonics countdown; e.g., -at, ha-, -a-, hat of /hat/ to avoid distortion of consonant sounds and to focus attention on the "hard spots" of whole words, beginning and ending with referential and/or syntactic meaning (perceptual and cognitive closure)
 d.So-called whole-word method which has deteriorated into "sight-word" and "telling-the-child-the -word" "methods"
51.Should phonics be taught in isolation from reading in context? Why or why not? (Roe)
52.How can we best instill meaning as the closure "trigger" in word recognition? (Mason)
53.What are the implications of the "chunking" theory on methodology for teaching decoding (print to sound, or sound to print) and decoding (print to meaning) - to beginning readers? (Burmeister)
54.Word lists are often sent home by teachers for practice in word recognition and meaning. Is this a good practice? (Berg)
55.How important is it to teach phonetic [phonemic] respellings of words, often included in basal readers, too. I usually skip it. (Ginyard)
56.What are the effects of an overemphasis of phonics on the spelling process? (Wolfe)
57.Although spelling reform could indeed make English more directly phonemic, how can teachers facilitate learning to read in traditional orthography as it is still being used in our society? (Barnitz)
58.What "first aid" is appropriate when the pupil requests help on a word during the first, or silent, reading of a selection? (Betts)
 a. On the unknown phonogram, or hard spot, previously studied?
 b. on the unknown phonogram, or hard spot, of a word which presents a new learning?
59.What techniques of word perception are most efficient for the linguistically skillful, and would be most efficient in a reformed spelling? What would be the most efficient for the educationally disadvantaged and for second language learners? (Yule)
60.What is the validity of the psycholinguistic approach's negative criticism of phonics? (Groff)
61.In spellings and word perception, how useful is the teaching of word patterns? (Terrill)
62.What techniques and procedures are valid for the development of word perception skills following the first, or silent, reading? (Betts)
 a.The values and limitations of the "phonics countdown"?
 b.The values and limitations of substitution techniques?
63.Should the letters of the alphabet be taught before learning to read? What is meant by learning the letters? For instance: reading, writing, saying, etc. (all of these, one of these?) (Terrill)
64.How effective is "letter" phonics versus pronounceable-units phonics? (Betts)
 a.Do letters have sounds? (E.g., what is the sound represented by c in city, car, ocean, cello, etc.)
 b.Do sounds have letters? (E.g., what letters represent the sound /s/ in sun, city, scene, psalm, etc.?
 c.Why does "letter" phonics, or "sounding-out", words create serious reading disabilities (E.g., sounding out cat as "cuh-a-tuh" or scratch as "suh-cuh-er-a-chuh?)
65. If a list of one-hundred most common (or whatever number is selected) words were to be learned for instant recognition, what would be the most effective teaching method or methods? For all learners? What would be the least effective? (Terrill)
66.Is it possible to teach phonics, word structure, and spelling of words within the spelling class, and the changing of word forms within the language lesson, and thus leave the reading lesson free for actual reading and for working on comprehension (thus perceiving and using word spellings in context.)? (Terrill)
67.What is the evidence on the effectiveness of teaching phonics isolated from the pupil's immediate needs? (Betts)
 a.How is the pupil's motivation captured? (need group)
 b.When is the pupil taught to apply a phonic skill?
 c.When is time scheduled to study word-perception skills identified during the first, or silent, reading?
 d.How does drill on a list of words isolated from a reading interfere with motivation and learning?
68.Are flashcards of words and pictures of value in beginning reading? (Terrill)
69.Are tachistoscopic devices of value in perception and word perception? (Terrill)
70.When should a child be told a word he or she cannot identify? (Roe)
71.Under what circumstances does the teacher or parent tell the child the word he/she cannot identify? (Betts)
 a.Consider: one, you, your, would and other maverick words
 b.Consider: was /waz/, from /frəm/, been /bin/, often / ofan/ and other words with misleading signals to pronunciation
 c.Consider: and /and, ənd, ən/, or /ər, or/, for /fər, for/, and other function words, usually unstressed
 d.Consider: -ew of sew, and other phonograms that present isolated instances of unique spellings
 e.Consider: she, time, red, sun, and other words that tend to fit spelling patterns, or phonic rules.
72.If a predisposition to "spelling disability" is postulated, how crucial is instructional methodology for enabling learners to acquire competence? What methodology, are considered most enabling? Most disabling? (Robert
73.If an aptitude for spelling is postulate, is methodology crucial, or direct instruction even necessary? (Roberts)
74.Are flashcards of words and pictures of value in beginning reading? (Terrill)
75.How is a phonemically based dictionary used in a phonics program? (E.g., G & C Merriam's 1956 edition, Webster's New Elementary Dictionary, distributed by American Book Co.) (Betts)
 a.Why is the syllabication of dictionary entries (versus respellings to show pronunciation) inappropriate?
 Examples: Dictionary Entry
/'bär-o /
 b.What is the purpose of the respelling?
76.As a teacher it is difficult for me to hear vowel sounds - short or long. How can I teach my students when I don't hear the sounds? I learned to read (somehow) (Ginyard)
77.Is guidance on word perception as one facet of reading instruction given in extant professional textbooks? If so, where? (Betts)
 a.Confusion of terms: phonics, phonetics, phonemic
 b.Indiscriminate and ambiguous confusion of orthographic and phonemic terms; e.g., digraphs, diphthongs
 c.Omission of graphic r considerations: consonant r, vowel r, and 12 centering diphthongs
78.What conditions are essential for the child to learn to read by structures?
 a.How do we cause the learner to be aware of grammatical meaning?
 b.What causes breakdown in intonation (oral re-reading)?
 c.Does the systematic study of grammar facilitate comprehension and rhythmical reading?
 d.How does punctuation signal intonation and referential meaning?
 e.How does the irregular spelling of words interfere with intonation? E.g., know (no), knows (nose), some (sum), laugh (laf)
79.Why do attempts to say consonant boundaries in isolation (e.g., /b/ of /bat/) frustrate beginners in reading and, therefore, produce learning disabilities?
80.Why are contractions introduced gradually in basic readers?
 a.What spelling problems are introduced by contractions?
 b.To what extent do contractions interfere with learning word-perception skills by analogy - by spelling patterns?
81.How are perceptual and cognitive closure effected in a directed reading-study activity?
 a.Do some learners experience difficulty in perceptual closure? Why?
 b.How does syntactic meaning reinforce referential meaning and, therefore, contribute to effective intonation?
82.Why are there so many different types of perceptual learning?
 a.How can category learning be increased and other types of learning be reduced, thereby facilitating learning to read?
 (1)Why is analogy not always a potent factor in learning word-perception skills? E.g., h(ear) vs h(ear)d, h(ea)d vs st(ea)k
 (2)To what extent can spellings be regularized in self-help activities? E.g., said /sed/
 b.Can cue learning be reduced?
 (1)How does analogy learning, interfere with cue learning?
 (2)How can regularized spelling as self-help aids facilitate cue learning?
 c.How can probability learning be reduced?
 (1)What is the probability of ew (few) representing /yü/ in more than one commonly used word?
 (2)What is the probability of oo representing /ū/ in moon vs. /u/ in look?
 d.At what reading "levels" does alternation learning become increasingly important? E.g., /a/ in nātion vs. /.a/ in national: m(at)ure vs. m(at)uration
83.To what extent do spelling demons contribute to word-perception errors?
84.What factors in the readability of materials facilitate learning of word-perception skills?
85.Why are word-perception skills and abilities crucial in evaluating "level" of achievement?

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