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Comprehension Difficulties Among Children

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Mid-Semester Examination

Comprehension Difficulties Among Children  


Selinea Rolle      

Reading Methodology in the Primary School (EDUC 350)

Lecturer: Mr. A. Hanna

The Bahamas Baptist Community College

October 25th, 2017


         The goal of reading is to extract meaning from text, and this depends upon both decoding and language-comprehension skills. Recently there has been growing interest in children who can read accurately but have poor comprehension. Comprehension difficulties is relatively common, although it often goes unrecognized in the classroom. Children with who experience reading-comprehension difficulties have a range of oral-language weaknesses, which impede their comprehension of both written and spoken language. Thus, compromising the stages in language processing.  Recent studies indicate that these difficulties can be ameliorated by school-based interventions, which can, in turn, improve both reading- and listening-comprehension skills.

Comprehension Difficulties Among Children

                    Comprehension is the understanding and interpretation of what is read; it is the ultimate goal of reading. To be able to accurately understand written material, children need to be able to decode what they read; make connections between what they read and what they already know; and think deeply about what they have read. One big part of comprehension is having a sufficient vocabulary, or knowing the meanings of enough words. Readers who have strong comprehension are able to draw conclusions about what they read – what is important, what is a fact, what caused an event to happen, which characters are funny. Thus, comprehension involves combining reading with thinking and reasoning. Given the complex nature of reading comprehension, it is not surprising that some individuals have difficulties in this area. There are two main sources by which this difficulty can stem from. These sources are; lacking decoding skills and deficits in linguistic comprehension. When broken down one would find that these two sources can create many problems in comprehension. Additionally. difficulty with reading comprehension can be caused by a stage in the processing of language not mastered enough for understanding to take place. Other factors not linked to language processing can serve as a factor that causes difficulty in comprehension. Moreover, comprehension difficulties have also been reported in a r

ange of clinical disorders, eye problems, self-regulatory issues, and metacognitive issues.  The nature and origins of reading comprehension difficulties, however, are not so clear. Thus, there are many strategies that both teachers and parents can use to improve reading comprehension difficulties among children. Strategies such as; KWL (sometimes called “cool method”), the PQ3R method, reading journals, and summarizing are just a few strategies that can be used to help these individuals.

Sources of Comprehension Difficulties

            Comprehension difficulties can stem from many sources. Two of the major sources are lacking decoding skills and deficits in linguistic comprehension. The relationship between decoding and linguistic comprehension is considered to be multiplicative: there can be no reading comprehension without the ability to decipher or recognize words, and similarly, reading comprehension will fail if children lack the linguistic comprehension to understand what it is they have decoded. Put simply, both decoding and linguistic comprehension are necessary, and neither skill on its own is sufficient, if successful reading comprehension is to follow.

Decoding skill:  This skill can place a constraint on reading comprehension. A specific form of this hypothesis was proposed by Perfetti (1985) who claimed that when decoding is slow and effortful, resources are dedicated to word-level processing. By contrast, when decoding is automatic, resources are available for the task of comprehension. In line with Perfetti’s “verbal efficiency” hypothesis, evidence demonstrates that reading comprehension is compromised when decoding is poor. Word reading speed and reading comprehension correlate in child as well as adult populations, Perfetti and Hogaboam (1975) found that children with poor reading comprehension were slower at reading words and nonwords than their classmates. Moreover, the relationship between decoding efficiency and reading comprehension is maintained over time, and measurements of nonword reading taken in early childhood predict later variations in reading comprehension measured in secondary school years and adulthood (Bruck, 1990; Perfetti, 1985). However, inefficient decoding is unlikely to be the only source of reading comprehension impairment.

Linguistic Comprehension:   According to the logic of the simple model of reading, if poor comprehends do not have deficits in decoding, they should show deficits in linguistic comprehension. Generally, the relationship between reading comprehension and listening comprehension is very close, especially as children get older and reading comprehension becomes more constrained by knowledge and understanding, rather than basic word-level decoding (Stanovich, Cunningham, & Freeman, 1984). Although there are important differences between spoken language and written language (e.g., in the temporal characteristics of the two modalities), evidence suggests that listening and reading comprehension depend on very similar underlying processes. poor comprehends do not have a comprehension impairment that is specific to reading. Rather, their difficulties with reading comprehension need to be seen in the context of difficulties with language comprehension more generally. Some theorists have gone further and intimated that since poor comprehends’ performance is highly consistent across both written and spoken language, they should perhaps not qualify as having a reading impairment, so much as a more general language or cognitive deficit. However, the fact that poor comprehends’ difficulties can be traced to more general difficulties with spoken language does not negate the fact that they have a reading difficulty.  

What Causes Reading Comprehension Difficulties?

          The causes of poor reading comprehension can stem from many things. A breakdown in comprehension can occur at different stages in the processing of language. If any of these stages are compromised it can lead to the individual unable to understand what is read and some cases also what is heard. These stages in the processing of language that leads to comprehension of what is read includes vocabulary and prior knowledge, decoding, fluency, and cognitive speed/ working memory.Cre[pic 1]



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