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  • Writer's pictureDr. V.S. Gayathri

A Simple View of Reading!

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

Reading is one of those most important skills which we ought to develop from a young age. And, keep applying throughout our lives. As we keep developing our reading skills, we tend to master its different components.

When kids read, they mostly move toward greater and greater comprehension of what they have read. This facilitates reading and learning fluently.

But not all kids have enough of what they need to get to reading comprehension. Some of them have strong phonics and word recognition skills, but they fail to comprehend. Others show insightful comprehension when you read to them, but fail in comprehension when they read on their own.

Let us understand how the reading process happens.

Reading is made of two components: -

- Decoding

- Language Comprehension

An important model for reading comprehension by Gough & Tunmer (1986). Their model, the Simple View of Reading states that

D x LC = RC


D stands for Decoding, LC is Language comprehension and RC denoted Reading Comprehension.

It has been named as “simple” because it only has two moving parts, the D and the LC.

Let us analyze each of the components individually.

Decoding is reading the word with sounds. It is the ability to turn what you see into the right word sounds, more and more automatically. Phonics instruction aims toward increasing decoding proficiency.

Language comprehension is the background knowledge that is needed to read or learn something. It is the ability to understand spoken words in sentences. When we use easier words and less complex structures for very small kids, that indicates a lesser language comprehension proficiency.

In this model, these two components are multiplied together, not added. This means that when one is weak, you can’t just compensate with a heavier dose of the other.

For example, Hindi is a more transparent language, however in English, each letter will have multiple sounds. Hence, it can be sometimes confusing or more effort might be required. That is why both the skills are required for complete understanding. So, it is very important for parents and teachers.

Using the formula, mainly we can get four types of students.

- The Poor Decoder (D=0, LC=1, RC= 0)

- Poor Language Comprehension (D=1, LC=0, RC=0)

- Poor at both skills (D=0, LC=0, RC=0)

- Fluent Reader (D=1, LC=1, RC=1)

Poor Decoder- They are poor decoders who struggle to figure out what word the letters make. This is a problem because if you don’t know what the word says, there is no way that you can access the meaning.

Poor Language Comprehension- They struggle with language comprehension but don’t have a problem with reading the words in the story. If you ask them to read a story, they will be able to read the story without difficulty, but if you ask them about what they read, they would not be able to tell you what the story was about.

Poor at both skills- They struggle with both decoding the text and language comprehension and hence struggle with reading comprehension. These individuals need support in all areas related to literacy and the effects of their problems will only get bigger over time if they don’t get help.

Fluent Readers- They have no problem with reading the words on the page or understanding what they mean. This is the ultimate goal of reading instructions.

Often parents have this query that their kid can read everything, but still not score well.

Let us see what the issue can be.

- The child might be lacking in Language comprehension skills- Orally some kids can answer very well, but they will lack in comprehension.

- A simple passage is difficult for a kid to read so here decoding might be an issue.

Hence, we need to equally concentrate on both decoding and comprehension skill. As sometimes, we presume, reading is not a natural skill. It needs to be taught in the right way to the child to that they can develop it from an early age and keep improving their skills.


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