[Spelling Progress Bulletin, Summer 1983 pp5,6]
[Also on this page: Directed reading activities.]
[Emmett Betts: see Anthology, Bulletins.]

Reading by Structures: General Considerations,

by Emmett A. Betts, Ph.D.

There are two important keys to reading by structures: (1) intonation and (2) word groups, or sentence units.

Research on reading and silent speech - inner speech, the movements of the speech apparatus during silent reading - reveals that even an efficient reader "talks to himself" during silent reading. That is, there is speech-motor activity in reading. Furthermore, grammatical meaning - the relationships between word groups - is signalled by intonation. There is, for example, usually only one stressed syllable in a word group - called phrase stress as contrasted to syllable stress.

The largest unit is the sentence. But the sentence may be sliced into two units: subject and predicate. These sentence units may be sliced into noun patterns, or clusters, (e.g., All the news that's fit to print ...), and verb patterns, or clusters, (e.g., No one can draw more out of things, books included, than he already knows.) - headwords and their modifiers. In turn, noun and verb patterns may sliced into smaller units, as in The injustice to an individual is sometimes of service to the public. Finally, these substructures may be sliced into function words, (e.g., the, must, very) and the equivalents of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.

1. Speech has rhythm, resulting in the grouping of sounds into patterns, or structures (phonological phrases).
a. Groups of speech sounds are spoken together.
b. Groups of speech sounds are heard together.
2. Speech is a grouping of sounds rather than of words. Beginners in reading need to be taught the concept of a word because speech has been learned as a sequence of patterned sounds rather than a sequence of words. (See Betts, "Teaching Word Perception Skills: Beginning Reading")

3. Groups of speech sounds are signalled by intonation.
a. Within each group of sounds, there is usually only one heavy stress.
b. There are as many groups of speech sounds as there are heavy stresses.
c. Usually there is heavy stress on the last syllable of a word group.
4. Groups of speech sounds are signalled by "markers."

5. Reading is, in part, the translation of groups of words (writing) into the patterns of speech sounds which they represent.
a. Because groups of words are spoken together as a sequence of sounds, they are read together.
b. Because punctuation - linking, separating, and enclosing - partially symbolizes the patterns of speech, it is studied as a key to word groups.
c. Because word groups are signalled by markers (e.g., to, for, of, which, when), they are studied as keys to word groups.
6. Comprehending the meanings of sentences requires an understanding of the relationships among its word groups (structure groups, sentence units, or pattern parts).
a. Sentences are composed of two parts: subject and predicate.

Restif (was a fantast of reality).
He that sups with the devil (must have a long spoon).
An aircraft tire that will deflate after a plane has taken off and inflate before landing (is being designed by the U.S. Airforce).
A society strong enough to sustain strong criticism (is one that the people are most likely to sustain).
Note: Test the above sentences by dividing the elements arbitrarily in other ways, as in:
Art (plays odd tricks with history).
Art plays (odd tricks with history).
Art plays odd (tricks with history).
Art plays odd tricks (with history).
(1) The key word in a subject is a noun (e.g., art), or a noun substitute, e.g., it or he).
(2) The key word in a predicate is a verb (e.g., add).
b. Introductory word groups pattern with the rest of the sentence - the introductory structure is one part (unit) and the rest of the sentence is another part (unit). That is, the subordinate word group modifies the rest off the sentence and is signalled by a comma.

(When you have no observers), it's best to watch yourself (Arnold Glasow).
(When a man says he sees eye to eye with his wife), he simply means his vision has been corrected.
(While it may still be true that you can't fool all the people all the time), those highway interchange signs come pretty close.
(If you demand red carpet treatment), be careful - someone may pull out the rug from under you.
(If two men agree on everything), you may be sure that one of them is doing all the thinking.
(Since language determines experience), we must be attentive to design a language which keeps perception open.

c. Noun clusters are patterned parts of sentences, composed of a head word (a noun) and its modifiers.
(1) Modifiers of head words - at the syntactic level
(The silver lining) is easier to find in someone else's cloud.
(The reward of great men) is that, long after they have died, one is not quite sure that they are dead.
(The number of people who go to concerts) exceeds those who go to baseball games.
(The total loss (birth) - dead, damaged, and defective) is in the neighborhood of 100 per 1000.

(2) Modifiers of modifiers - at the word group level.
(Some very old men) attended the meeting on geriatrics.
In this sentence very modifies old men. Someand old modify men, at the syntactic level.
(The man on the ladder in the corridor) is the custodian.
In this sentence, in the corridor modifies ladder.
7. In directing reading activities, the comprehension facet includes both the word group structures and the content of a selection.
a. Word and word group markers.
b. Intonation signals
8. For easy translation of groups of words (writing) into speech sounds, the readability of the material is at the pupil's independent reading level. (See Betts', "Discoving Specific Reading Needs," Chapter XXI in Foundations of Reading Instruction, 1957, 1950, 1946.

Word-by-word reading is a symptom not only of inadequate word-perception skills but also of inability to use intonation cues to grammatical meaning - the relationships between word groups.


[Spelling Progress Bulletin, Summer 1983 p6]
[Emmett Betts: see Anthology, Bulletins.]

Directed Reading Activities: Strategy and Tactics,

by Emmett A. Betts.

In Conclusion.

Our discussion of strategy and tactics for helping pupils to improve their reading and study skills begins and ends with the teacher - especially his attitudes. First, the master teacher gives his pupils love - a warmth, loyalty, and devotion that discerns the pupil's feelings and flows back to bring joy and satisfaction to the souls of both teacher and pupils. This quiet, dignified love given by the teacher brings calm and beauty into the learning situation.

But in the master teacher's person, love alone is not enough. He brings to his pupils not only a will to understand them but also techniques for understanding them. His pupils' concerns are his concerns, but he tries to understand the causes of their concerns: why Tommy has a sweaty, desperate grip on his stubby pencil, why Mary is so easily distracted, why Jack is bored with the group's textbook but is interested in radium, why Susan always has her head in a book but contributes little or nothing to group projects. Yes, the master teacher gives love, but it is love high-lighted by a scholarly understanding of his pupils' personal wishes, concerns, achievements, and needs.

In addition to love and understanding, the master teacher has faith in his pupils. His faith in their desire to learn, in their ability to achieve, in the inherent goodness of their intentions, brings repose and expands the intellect of his scholars. To have faith is to believe in them and in his profession - to trust.

Love, understanding, and faith open the doors of the mind. These three marks of a master teacher give reality to the attitude that only the school, not the child, can fail.

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