What are the Components of Reading?

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Understanding the five components of reading can help us assess the students' reading skill.All students meet and understand class text in different ways, depending on the “files” they have gathered since birth. A teacher’s awareness of how easy or difficult the text is for each student makes learning stronger for everyone.

Teachers can use assessments to tell us how well students are reading. Once we have data from assessments, we can formulate effective instruction.

Reading assessments measure various components of reading. The five main components of reading are:

1. Phonomic Awareness

Phonemes are the smallest units of sound that make up spoken words and Phonomic Awareness is defined as the ability to “focus on and manipulate phonemes in spoken words.”

Phonomic awareness impacts meaningful reading, and thus it is critical for students to develop this skill. When a person hears and can understand the three sounds that the word ‘cat’ has, they’ve demonstrated their understanding.

Some skills involved in phonomic awareness include:

  • Identifying specific sounds at the beginning, middle, and end of words. For example, what is the first sound in the word “Table.”
  • Blending sounds. For example joining /s/ and /it/ to form sit.
  • Making a new word by adding a phonome to a word. For example, deriving what work is created when adding /s/ to the word “and.”

2. Phonics

Phonics are a set of rules that specify the relationship between letters and sounds. The English language has such rules that help predict the sounds in new words. However, it is not always consistent.

Learning about phonics will help students read and spell easily and accurately. It involves recognizing letter-sound relationships and then using those relationships to read connected text.

An example of Phonics is learning about the various letter combinations that can be used for the sound /k/.

3. Fluency

Fluency is the accurate and rapid recognition of words in a text and using phrasing and emphasis in a way that makes what is read sound like spoken language.

Fluency is important for reading comprehension, because it frees up working memory in the brain providing an opportunity for students to comprehend what they are reading.

4. Vocabulary

Vocabulary refers to the words that we use in reading, writing, listening and speaking. A good vocabulary helps ease word recognition, and thus makes reading easier.

5. Comprehension

Comprehension is the final goal of reading. This involves being able to connect what has been read to what the reader knows, constructing meaning that is reasonable and accurate and then, contemplating this information until the meaning is understood.

While teachers often focus on this aspect of reading, it is important to understand that difficulties in this area are often a result of deficits in other aspects of reading.

Learn More… Take this course: Reading Across the Curriculum

Discuss Here: How can we assess these components of reading in the classroom?

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