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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:28 by NZTecAdmin

Although the pathways into reading are similar for learners at whatever age they start, it appears that, in some respects, adults who are learning to read develop their skills in different ways from children.

Adults with limited reading depend far more on sight recognition56 of words and phrases as units than do children, who tend to rely more on phonological knowledge and decoding skills.57

Adults bring world knowledge and experience to literacy development (see Appendix A on the principles of adult learning), and those with limited reading skills may have many years’ experience of relying on sight recognition to function in society.

Research further suggests that those with a lower level of sight recognition have poorer comprehension levels overall.58

Adult literacy learners therefore need to develop both sight recognition and phonological awareness. Starting with personally significant words provides relevance to the learning and builds on skills and knowledge the learner has already begun to develop.

56 Words that are recognised ‘on sight’ (without pausing to decode) are known as sight words.

57 Greenberg, 1997, cited in Durgunoglu and Onëy, 2002.

58 Perin, 1988 and Curtis, 1980, cited in Durgunoglu and Onëy, 2002.



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