Reading test and related information
|Reading test and related information is a supplementary document to how to teach a child to read using phonics [synthetic phonics].|
|on teaching reading||how to teach a person number, arithmetic, mathematics|
A reading test like this, while useful, will only give you an approximate guide. Language usage changes over time and among sub-cultures. You will not use all the words that you know in everyday speech. Different words will be used in conversation. The objective, as stated in Teaching reading using phonetics, is to get the person to the stage where they can read on their own while investigating and expanding their vocabulary.
The early words learned will have a disproportionate number of non-phonetic words, as they have been in language for a very long time. This is one of the factors that has motivated teachers to use look-say, though it is not a good excuse. It is for reasons like this that you will find word lists, such as those in Teaching reading using phonetics, useful in the early stages of teaching a child to read.
Much teaching ‘theory’ is far too eager to make the child ‘succeed’, as if learning to puzzle out words is not fun on its own and in some fear that the child has to be tempted into finding learning to read interesting or useful.
Doubtless, by the time the child comes to reading, it will usually be interested in holding conversations and can be told that interesting conversations of all types may be found in books. Overplay of ‘how very important’ it is to read to your child can become a passive way of making it less necessary for the child to have to read itself. Further, a great deal of what is read to children is fictional rhubarb. There is plenty enough in the real world to get a child’s interest without filling their head with invisible and scary nonsense.
The Ladybird series is structured to appease the look-say lobby by suggesting that early words are taught by the Chinese character method. Unless you are caught up in the fashion, there is no reason that you should give it more than passing awareness. Many of the reading schemes prior to the Chinese fashion are, instead, structured to open up with phonetically more regular words. Of course, any child, with repetition and experience, will start to recognise Chinese characters like who, thus incorporating their own self-built collection of look-say awkward words.
According to Ladybird support literature, the average adult knows approximately 20,000 words. An advanced dictionary will contain at least twenty times that number of words, maybe half a million before considering derivations. The diagram below represents the 20,000 words in an average vocabulary. The frequency of use of the words is indicated by area. As you will see, about twelve words make up about twenty-five percent of the words used in a child’s vocabulary, while about a hundred words make up about half their vocabulary. The Ladybird reading scheme (and the words used) are derived from a large number of different research findings into children’s language. Do not be reticent to add your own words to the child’s growing vocabulary. While this list is structured in detail for the Ladybird series, naturally the producers of readers going back a hundred years were not unaware of children’s vocabulary and tended to improve ‘their’ readers during experience and practice.
Below is the same list made clearer to read.
There are two major ways to calculate human abilities. Both methods are often referred to , at times, as I.Q., reading quotient, etc. When dealing with children, it is often thought useful to compare them with their age peers in the culture. To this end, a reading age assessment is made by comparing the child’s present performance to the assessed average age of a child who meets that performance standard, and then perhaps generate a quotient to make it look ‘scientific’. This can be done by the following calculation.
The second major method is to calculate the spread of abilities at a particular age and then assume those abilities fall ‘randomly’. Then, by varieties of jiggery-pokery, make sure they do fit such a distribution. If you care enough to start swimming in these murky waters, you may enjoy yourself by reference to Intelligence: misuse and abuse of statistics and to Is Intelligence Distributed Normally? By Cyril Burt, 1963.
Experience has shown that using the age quotient, a standard deviation of somewhere around fifteen points appears, if you care to make the assumptions inherent in the second method - no don’t worry about it, unless you really are up for the murky swim. You can teach a child to read perfectly well, without knowing anything much at all about these magical potions.
The vocabulary comprehension and count test below is from the 1916 Terman-Binet I.Q. Test. You will get a rough idea of how many words you know by multiplying the number of correct definitions in either the left-hand or right-hand 50-item test by 360. Else, you can multiply the total score on both tests by 180.
As you will see, one or two of the words are not in very common use 90 years later.
Such a test is fairly easy to construct.
You will see from the vocabulary test above that it has come from a (small) dictionary with approximately 18,000 words [180 x 100 words]. The table on p.310 of Terman suggests that the average sixteen year old, at the time the test was standardised, was able to score about 65 correct definitions, that is about 12,000 words. This seems more realistic to me than the 20,000 words suggested by some sources.
If you have reached this far, remember that in any substantial dictionary a word may have subsumed variants. For instance, the word ‘wait’ may have words such as ‘waited’, ‘waiting’, ‘waits’, and thus counting the number of words a person knows depends on pre-assumed definitions.
In the days when such tests were regarded with more magical awe, sixteen years of age was rather arbitrarily taken as the age at when intellect stops developing. Naturally, any reasonably intelligent adult goes on learning new words for the rest of their lives.
Whether the average number of words known by a sixteen year old in 2007 is greater or less than in 1916, I haven’t checked in detail. In 1916, vocabulary and spelling were high in the priorities of any teacher within their dull classrooms. In those days, the school-leaving age was fourteen and often younger.
Now, with technology exploding in every direction with the associated vocabularies, with research access to the world widely available, my guess is that the modern citizen has approximately the same number of words at sixteen. There is an increasingly large proportion of the population going on to advanced education. Nevertheless, conversation, which in 1916 was a considerable part of normal life, has now been widely supplanted by passive visual media. In the modern world, education is more directed to teaching people how to find what they want, rather than merely memorising.
My guess is that the average vocabulary hasn’t, in fact, changed much over the intervening years. Thus the test is not entirely destroyed by the passing of time.
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|Related links for further reading:|
|reality, laying the foundations for sound education|
|aristotle’s logic - why aristotelian logic does not work|
|introduction to franchise discussion documents||The logic of ethics|
|franchise by examination, education and intelligence||power, ownership and freedom|
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