A student who understands all the words on the page he is reading will be able to read the page aloud perfectly. He will feel bright and alert and will fully understand what he reads. But when a student passes a word or symbol he doesn’t understand, the misunderstood causes an interruption of his voice or physical beingness (his physical state). His voice may change, or he may stumble on a word or make a face or squint his eyes or react in some other way.
This is easy to understand if you remember that a person can go blank after he passes a word or symbol he doesn’t understand. He may make a mistake in his reading right there at the point of the misunderstood, or he may continue reading past the misunderstood and make a mistake on a later word or symbol. He will feel duller and he will try to make up for the dull feeling by reading with more effort. This will always be expressed by a nonoptimum action of some kind which must be noted and handled at once by the word clearer.
A nonoptimum reaction is anything the student does besides read the page easily, naturally and perfectly. Examples of some of the nonoptimum reactions that may show up are:
1. Student adding a word or leaving out a word or changing a word in the sentence he is reading.
2. Student stumbling on a word or saying it incorrectly.
3. Student pausing or reading more slowly.
4. Student frowning or looking uncertain.
5. Student going stiff or tensing a body part, such as squinting his eyes or tightening the grip of his hands, or biting his lip or some other physical reaction.
6. Student reading with effort.
7. Student reading with a glib, robotic attitude (which is how he gets after he has been forced to read “correctly” by someone who doesn’t know anything about misunderstood words).
Other manifestations can occur.
The above is not a complete list of reactions but is intended to give an idea of what to look for. In all fairness, one can stumble when reading if he is trying to read in a dim light or he is having eye trouble or the print or handwriting or penciled corrections in the text are very hard to make out. Thus, it is necessary to do Reading Aloud Word Clearing only in bright light, and if the fellow is supposed to be wearing glasses, he should be wearing glasses, and the material being word cleared must not contain smudges and deletions itself. All possible reasons why he cannot see the text and unclear text must be removed. Otherwise, the student will simply say he couldn’t see it or the light was bad or some other wrong Why (reason or cause).
Any time the person makes an error in his reading or reacts in some nonoptimum way, a misunderstood word will always be found before that point or sometimes at that point itself.
Example: The student is reading the page aloud. He reads, “Raymond walked home slowly and thoughtfully,” then he frowns. The word clearer signals a halt by saying, “That’s it,” and then asks, “Is there some word or symbol there that you didn’t understand?” (If the student wonders why he was stopped, the word clearer tells him what reaction he noticed.) The student looks over what he has read. He feels uncertain about the word “slowly.” He tells this to the word clearer and the word “slowly” is looked up in the dictionary and used in sentences until the student fully understands it.
When the word that was misunderstood is located and cleared, the student will brighten up and will begin reading clearly and correctly once again
How to Do It
1. Student and Word Clearer Sit Across from Each Other.
The student and the word clearer sit across from each other at a table or desk. Each person has his own copy of the text to be word cleared. The word clearer must be able to see the student and the page in front of him at the same time.
2. Dictionaries Are Available.
A good, simple dictionary and any other dictionaries the student may need are available. (Above all things, do not use what is called a “dinky dictionary.” This is different than a simple well-expressed dictionary. A dinky dictionary is what you commonly get off the paperback racks in drugstores. It quite often defines word A as word B and then defines word B as word A. It also omits all the alternative definitions and all the technical definitions.)
3. Student Recognition of Misunderstood Words.
Before the student starts reading, he should be told that if he reads anything he doesn’t fully understand he should tell the word clearer, or if he sees a word he doesn’t know the meaning of, he should stop and look the word up and clear it instead of going on past it. The student should be encouraged to find and clear misunderstood words himself. The word clearer on this method would never prevent the student from clearing a word that the student recognizes as misunderstood. Reading Aloud Word Clearing brings about the ability to do this, so that the student will find and clear his own misunderstood words in the future.
4. Student Reads the Text Aloud to the Word Clearer.
The student reads the text aloud to the word clearer. While the student reads, the word clearer follows his own copy of the same text, watches the student and listens to him.
The word clearer must be very alert and see or hear any nonoptimum reactions of the student while he is reading.
5. Nonoptimum Reaction Equals Misunderstood Word.
A nonoptimum reaction by the student to what he is reading is the clue to the word clearer that the student has encountered a misunderstood word. The word clearer and student must now locate the exact misunderstood word or symbol. It will be found before or sometimes at the point the nonoptimum reaction occurred.
6. Find the Misunderstood.
If it is not obvious to the student that he has reacted and he just continues reading, the word clearer says, “That’s it. Is there some word or symbol there that you didn’t understand?” It is the duty of the word clearer to steer the student to the misunderstood. It is either at the point of the nonoptimum reaction or before it. The point is that the student must be steered onto it. And it then is looked up.
The student may be able to spot his misunderstood word right away and tell the word clearer what it is. Or he may have difficulty finding it and the word clearer will have to help him find it.
The word clearer helps the student by getting him to look earlier and earlier in the text from the point where he reacted until the misunderstood word is found. The word clearer can also spot-check the student. Spot-checking means choosing words from the text the student has already read and checking with him to see if he knows the definitions of those words. The word clearer would choose an earlier word and simply ask, “What is the definition of _________?”
If the student is uncertain about any word or gives a wrong definition, then that word is taken up and cleared in the dictionary.
7. Clear the Word.
Once the misunderstood is found it must be fully cleared in the dictionary. Use the procedure in “Steps to Clear a Word” covered in article “Clearing Words.”
8. Read the Sentence Again.
The word clearer then asks the student to read once again the sentence in the text in which the misunderstood word or symbol was found. The student does so, and if he reads it correctly with understanding, he continues reading the text. Any further nonoptimum reactions are handled by finding the next misunderstood word and clearing it, as above.
9. Reading Aloud Is Continued Until the Text Has Been Completed.
Reading Aloud Word Clearing is continued until the text to be word cleared is completed.
At this point, where two students are doing Reading Aloud Word Clearing on each other, they switch around and the student who just completed being word cleared becomes the word clearer.
The student goes through the same section of text and then goes on to the next fresh passage.
They take it in turns like this, word clearing it section by section until they have both finished the whole text.
Cautions and Tips
It occasionally happens that the students doing the Word Clearing get into a quarrel or upset. If this happens, you know that one of two things has happened. Either:
1. “Misunderstood words” that were really understood were forced off on the student, or
2. Actual misunderstood words were not detected and were passed by.
You can clean up any falsely looked-up words by asking the student if he was made to look up words he understood. If this is the case, he will brighten up and tell you the word or words he was wrongly made to clear. This done, the Word Clearing can be resumed.
If the above doesn’t handle it, then one knows that misunderstood words have been missed. Have the word clearer take the student back to when he was last doing well and then come forward in the text, following Reading Aloud Word Clearing procedure, picking up the missed misunderstood words. It will usually be found that several misunderstood words have been missed, not just one.
The end result of well-done Reading Aloud Word Clearing is a student who is certain he has no misunderstood words on that material so that he can easily study the material and apply it.
Reading Aloud Word Clearing is a great civilization saver.
It is vital that Reading Aloud Word Clearing is done correctly, exactly by the book. Otherwise, people will be denied the enormous