WHAT WE DO
The Literacy Challenge
The most recent results from the Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) found that 44 per cent of Australian adults lack the literacy skills required to cope with the complex demands of modern life.
These statistics are mirrored in testing of all year 7 students at a Victorian secondary school in 2018 and 2019 and in Australian Bureau of Statistics data across many years.
How We Learn to Read
THE FIVE KEYS TO READING
Major international research reports all agree that there are five main keys to learning to read:
Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the individual sounds in words – if this is an area of weakness it will make learning to read very hard.
We teach this skill through rhyming sounds; changing the beginning, middle or end sound of a word; substituting one sound for another; taking off one sound or adding a sound and lots of other activities.
Comprehension is about extracting and constructing meaning from written text using knowledge of words, concepts, facts and ideas.
The more automatically we can decode (get the words off the page) the better we are able to understand what we read. Strong background knowledge, vocabulary and decoding lead to good comprehension of what is being read.
Phonics uses relationships between sounds and letter-symbols to sound out (decode) written words.
This is the critical but often untaught skill in learning to read.
We teach each sound, how to blend the sounds to form words and how to separate the sounds in order to spell the words.
We start teaching with simple, regular spellings and keep teaching through to complex and unusual spellings.
Fluency is the ability to read accurately, quickly and expressively. Fluent readers are able to focus on reading for meaning.
This skill develops through the use of decodable texts – books that only have words in them with the sounds we have already learnt. As we become expert in getting the words off the page we are able to fluently read a wider and wider range of texts.
If we do not have a word in our oral vocabulary then we will not
recognise it in our reading.
The more words we know,
the more words we will be able
to get off the page and the
greater our ability!
Why so Many People are Struggling to Learn
Our teaching program is Turning Pages – five manuals and thirty readers – developed specifically for older learners and for use by non-teachers by the Shannon Trust in the UK and used successfully with many thousands of learners. This program follows closely the huge evidence base we have from international research into effective reading teaching.
We have also looked closely at many other organisations helping with literacy difficulties and have been inspired by a number of great ideas and case studies which illustrate that it really is possible to make a big impact on literacy from small beginnings.
How We Work
Learners work one-to-one with a trained reading coach twice a week for 40 minutes, working through the program at their own pace. This can happen in a variety of venues including primary schools, secondary schools and adult learning settings.
All learners are tested before starting and on completion, using standardised tests.
Each teaching venue manages its own volunteers and learners with support from Read Victoria.
Read Victoria runs information sessions, provides training and advises individuals and groups in the wider community about how to make sure everybody learns to read.
Learning to read means people can gain employment. It means they can enjoy success in their work.
They are able to read instructions on medicine bottles, to read to their children and fill in forms; they can read safety warnings and send text messages; they can write a birthday card; they can access education.
Learning to read means that people are able to be fully contributing and fulfilled members of their community.