98% of reading is an auditory. Only 2% of reading is visual.Listening to a story and reading that same story will activate the exact same pathways in the brain. It’s not where the sensory information comes from but where it ends up in the brain. Our eyes act more like ears when we read.
Seven out of eight students with reading problems in first grade continue to struggle with reading in 9th grade. They get better but never catch up. Improving listening skills is often the easiest route to improving reading skills.
Listening skills (including phonemic awareness, auditory attention, auditory sequencing, and listening vocabulary are the most important factors in natural reading. Teachers often notice that the child who has a hard time listening to a story also struggles to read.
The biggest barrier to comprehension is lack of fluency. Less than 15% of learning disabled students have comprehension problems if they read accurately and read faster than 80 words a minute. It is like teaching a child how to steer a bike before they learn how to pedal.
The National Reading Panel found that phonics instruction was of marginal benefit unless a student has well-developed phonemic awareness. This is why some first graders pick up phonics in months and struggling readers can take years.
English is the most difficult major language to listen and to read. For struggling readers, listening to English can be like listening to a foreign language you haven’t quite mastered.
The main reason English is so difficult to speak, listen to and to read is because spoken English has an exceptional number of vowel sounds (phonemes). The ability to hear and identify individual sounds is what separates natural readers from struggling readers. Many weak readers struggle with spelling and most of their errors – not surprisingly — are with vowels.
Students who read at a lower grade level are at serious academic risk. The kids who read Harry Potter in fourth grade aren’t “average fourth grade” readers.