Home Page :: Articles :: Reading in English

Reading in English

General background

Many parents are interested at what age a child should start learning to read. There are many different opinions on the subject and most people think that the right age is when a child goes to school.

However the scientists who thoroughly research early learning methods unanimously pronounce: the earlier the better.

The American scientist Glenn Doman, director of the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, was the founder of early learning methods. In his book "How to Multiply Your Baby's Intelligence: The Gentle Revolution" he wrote: "It is possible to teach babies to read… it is easier to teach a one-year-old to read than it is to teach a seven-year-old… Once you begin to teach your child to read, you will find that your child goes through new material very quickly… Parents are always astonished at how quickly their children learn."

The main problem of reading in English is that it is not enough to know how to pronounce separate letters or a few combinations of these letters of which you can form a word. Most English letters have various ways of pronunciation depending on other letters around. In the end correct reading and writing in English means that you have to remember the combination of all letters in each word.

Of course there are some reading rules but there also are a lot of exceptions, so you never know in advance if this or that word is pronounced according to the rule or it is an exception. So eventually you need to remember it.

The best age to remember a lot of information is 0 to 3, it is not yet bad at 3 to 6, but after the age of 6 one has much more difficulty in remembering. So the conclusion is obvious: the earlier you start teaching your child to read English, the more chance he will grow up a literate person.

However a child cannot learn to read by himself without your help. He has an in-built ability to learn to speak any language and understand it, but reading is a different matter. There must be somebody to show him the written words, pronounce them and connect with their meaning.

To teach your child read English is very easy using the general principle of learning to read in any language. You just need to provide the following connection:

pronunciation - meaning - written word

Practical recommendations below are based on this main principle.

    Practical recommendations based on Glenn Doman methodology:

  • Print out on paper words meaning pieces of furniture in your child’s room, animals the toys of which your child has, names of people on the photos. The size of such pieces of paper must be proper to stick them on the objects, keeping in mind that the bigger font the better. Use the most simple fonts. Stick them on the objects together with your child. The idea is to let your child see the written words as often as possible. Your task is anyway to pronounce them as often as you can and point at the written words while pronouncing. Do not forget to attract your child’s attention to them and pronounce.

    Do it for a year. During this time your child regardless of his age will remember all written words on the stickers.

  • Print out the cards with the same words which you have on the stickers and play the following game with your child. Put out the cards with the words in front of your child and ask him to pick the card with the word you pronounce. Your child can find the sticker with this word and then pick the card with the same written word. For example you pronounce the word "chair". Your child can either pick the card with this word straight away if he has already remembered this word in writing or find the sticker on his chair and then find the card with the same written word. This will also help him to remember the word and learn to read it.
  • Play with your child an opposite game. You pick the card with a written word on it without pronouncing the word and the child must find the object corresponding the word on the card.
  • Start reading with your child simple books in English with many pictures and little text. You can start with the books having just words and pictures to illustrate them. When you read to your child ask him to find the words which he can recognize on each page.
  • If your child can speak and pronounce words ask him to read out the words he can recognize on each page of the book you read for him.
  • The next step is to extend the number of words which your child will read. You cannot print out all possible words so further reading practice will take place when you read books together. Pick a word or words (not more than 2 or 3 at a time) which are often repeated on a page. Point at this word and pronounce it. Then ask your child to find the same word in different parts of the page. Every time your child finds this word ask him to pronounce it. Start with the most often and most simple ones like: "the" and "a", words "to", "do", "have", "this", "that", names of the characters.
  • The next exercise when reading together: again choose the word which is often repeated on the page or the one he practiced in the previous exercise. The first two or three times point at the word and pronounce it. Then each time you come across this word again your child will have to read it himself. Start with short words.
  • Read together 10 to 15 minutes every day. Make sure every day you add up 3 to 4 new words and by all means let the child read all words he already knows when you come across them in the text.

Acting this way in two years time your child will learn to read many words as fluently as adults. The child will just recognize the written words understanding what they mean and straight away recalling how to pronounce them. The alphabet you can learn later at any time. Knowing alphabet and pronunciation of separate letters does not mean reading as you can see from the above methodology.