How Does Your Brain Learn To Read?

My first book I ever read was Hop on Pop by
Dr. Suess, but what was going on in my brain when I was learning to read? Hey guys. Julia here for DNews According to a study by the Department of
Education and the National Institute of Literacy 32 million American adults can’t read. More
than most developed nations, so what’s going on? Is our education system failing us? Or
is it our language? Here in the states most students begin to
learn to read in kindergarten, learning the alphabet, turning those letters into sounds
and then working their way up to whole words. But learning to read is a very long complicated
processes. One of the keys to being able to read is Automatic
word processing. It’s basically how the brain decides a group of symbols is actually
a word within milliseconds. One study published in the journal Developmental
Science found that this process happens around fourth and fifth grade. But for some the process
is much longer. Researchers had participants look at a list
of words, fake words that looked like real words, and strings of random symbols. They
found that for most people, no matter their age knew the difference between real words
and not. But after placing an electrode cap on participants heads, the researchers learned
how people subconsciously react to words and symbols. They found that college kids could
instantly tell the difference but surprisingly elementary school students still respond to
random symbols as words even as late as 5th grade. So this experiment was designed to test Automatic
word processing. So your brain reads these symbols as words, which it reads not based
on its individual parts or letters, but based on how it looks as a whole. You’ve seen
that meme going around, that if letters are mixed up in a word you can still read it.
While most of that post is just internet baloney, it does have some truth to it. Your brain
can read words as a single object rather than a string of letters put together. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience
found that there’s a small area of the brain, on the left side of the visual cortex, that
can “read” words. Basically this part of the brain sits right next to the part that
recognizes faces. So one area of the visual cortex can quickly identify a face, another
can quickly read a word. But when is the best time to learn to read?
Well there’s a crucial window between kindergarten and third grade. Research published in the
journal Psychological Science found that the amount of white matter growth in the temporoparietal
region during that window strongly predicted how well that kid would learn to read. It
didn’t matter so much as to what their home life was like or their genetic predisposition.
This area of the brain is super important for things like phonological processing, speech,
and reading. One of the lead researchers, Fumiko Hoeft, thinks that if the growth in
this part of the brain doesn’t happen at the right time, the kid could have problems
with reading. But the problem with our literacy rate might
have more to do with our language than with our educational system or our brains. English
is one of the most irregular languages. Words more often break rules than conform. So learning
to read and write becomes a matter of memorizing words which can take years and years. Other
languages it can only take a year, because they have a written language that follows
rules. So if a person comes across a new word they haven’t heard before, they can pretty
much figure out how to spell it. In English read and read mean two different
things but are spelled the exact same way. WHY. COME ON ENGLISH WHY. Apparently I am
not the only one who questions this, from Benjamin Franklin’s phonetic alphabet to
an entirely new system called Unspell which looks like squiggly lines, there’s been
plenty of attempts to reform the written language over the years. Will it happen anytime soon?
Probably not. Speaking of reading, while it may be one of
the best pastimes around, it’s sometimes considered one of the most dangerous. In Nazi
Germany thousands of books were burned in an attempt to control the minds of their people.
To find out about a touching memorial to all the lost books, check out this great episode
from our seeker show Seeker. So what do you think? Is English due for an
overhaul? What was it like for you when you first learned to read? Tell us about it down

100 thoughts on “How Does Your Brain Learn To Read?”

  1. I am always learning to read new languages . you forgot the joy when you learn and use a new writing system. I wish you did some vid about polyglots

  2. I think that English has a bit too much slang from street-life and pop-culture. I personally don't think that it's as pretty a language as it used to be. Plus, I've noticed that many native speakers have terrible grammar. I've heard 'I come upstairs yesterday' more than once by different people and I flinch every time.
    I'm glad that I'm a native English speaker though; learning English sounds like quite a task. I'm a language-learner of French, Spanish and Japanese so, I've seen some complicated grammar structures but I wouldn't say that those languages are more difficult that English because of the more strict rules of which you were speaking in the video. 🙂

  3. learning a new language isnt bad,its just that sometimes i wonder if im learning and understanding the right ones

  4. I suffer from Dyslexia. I could read in y own way before going to school. I could looks at a page and pick up what i needed to know and understood it. Then i went to elementary school.  *sighs* When they started focusing in on every single letter i just couldnt do th because the letters would rearrange or jump all over the place. It still effects me to this day.

  5. 'Does English need an overhaul?' – I think the Americans have already seen to that. Surely you don't need to simplify it further?

  6. Around 2:00, "Doesn't matter much what their home life was or what their genetic predisposition was."So the amount of white matter growth in the temporoparietal region occurs in a vacuum uninfluenced by nature or nurture? Or is she saying it is somehow effected only by natural and environmental factors that aren't genetics or homelife?

  7. yes english is in need of an over haul. this whole word cipher system i made with foxreplace is the greatest thing Ive ever learned to do

    诺y3s* 英语 是 崽 待 磾 an 过 haul. 這 整*whøle* 字 cipher system 我 制*[email protected]*同 foxre位 是 钙 greatest 事 Ive 永 learned 衟 办

  8. I was about 5-6 when I started making sense of words. By the time I was about 9-10 I was reading books a few years ahead of my reading level

  9. I'm not sure when I started learning to read but I'm from the only officially bilingual province of Canada and after learning to read, write and obviously speak french (my first official language). We started reading English in grade 3.

  10. I think I finally understand why I don't have very good language skills. As a math person, I love seeing patterns. Something the English language doesn't do well, which removes the ability to use association for learning thus requires memorization. Perhaps I should ditch English for a different language…

  11. i fucking hate myself for this, i can literary read an entire book and wont even be able to summarize the story by atleast 5 paragraphs. it fucking sucks. i can pronounce the words and read the sentences but my brain can't process shit, i can't comprehend anything. how can anyone deal with this?

  12. What does science say about verbal reading (normal reading), visual reading (speed reading), and photo-reading?

  13. i found out that when i was moved out of school, i suddenly read SO MUCH BETTER. even though I'm only 8 years old, I've read The Candy Shop War. really good book, but really complicated and long. i've also read Harry Potter, the whole series.

  14. Automatic word processing happens in 4th or 5th grade? Whaaat? I was flying through novels in kindergarten!

  15. This is horrible science. I teach people to read at any age who have absolutely blocked. It is always to do with their visual and auditory processing, sort those out and lo and behold reading suddenly becomes so much easier. Their brain might change as a result, but the key factor that has changed is the inputs to their brain.

  16. learning to read and write English was kind of hard for me as a child, I remember struggling with it. learning to read and write Hebrew was a totally different story. Hebrew it was very easy for me.

  17. The only important thing is that the first and last letters are at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem. Easy. If you are more interested in reforming the English language you could join the Anglish moot. It is a bit like Yahoo only the people do not write in English they write everything in Anglish. The idea is to make works more English and less everything else, like Latin for example. Some words are easier to pick up than others. The Anglish moot as been going on for some time now so a lot of the rules have already been established.

  18. I'm from sweden and I find spelling in swedish is much harder than in english, cause in swedish E and Ä sometimes sound alike, as does O and Å, so I usually don't know which letter to use. English is easier too me, even if it's more irregular

  19. I had a Riley hard time lornig to reed but I don't thank it was be cos of the inglish language it was be cos the class rooms wor to laod and I can't cosantrat with movmant in frunt of me . and I can't reed unless I'm stond on weed

  20. I remember I was really young and I was reading aloud in a car. My uncle told me to read in my mind and I was like, "How do you do that?" Then he asked, "You don't know how to read in your mind? Try it then." I tried it and I was mind blown that I WAS READING IN MY MIND! I just thought it was a funny story of when I was young.

  21. Well, if there any learner of Russian language out there I strongly recommend you to try to read our novels in a native language.
    Having experienced that, actually you may conceive how a human brain works in the other direction from your native.
    I read in English every day even though i'm struggling with new vocabulary it such an inexpressible experience.

  22. why is it that you show the white ones in university that know how to read and the black ones that don't know how to read properly in the video that is so bizarre

  23. Part of the problem which has nothing to do with the brain is culture. Here in the south, many schools "help" the impoverished students by literally giving them passing grades without requiring any effort on the part of the child. Thus, these children never learn to read, do math, or anything else. I know this sounds like an exaggeration, but it's not. And folks around here really do think they are helping these kids. Now they are putting pressure on the local colleges to do the same so that they can get a degree which will entitle them to income.

  24. When I was in Elementary I was always one of the ones with my hand up to volunteer to read out loud! I absolutely loved reading, or the attention that it brung, one of the two! Lol but now when I read a book which I can say I do about one book every two or three months, most times I find it hard to stay focused for even 30 minutes so it takes me about two weeks to finish One book! That's awkward as hell because ironically when I do pick up a book to read I love it.

  25. It`s been a year since we started reading guide “Wamzοzο Loli” (Google it). My daughter is constantly enhancing her reading skills up to now. She now reads beginning chapter books and is a wonderful speller. She even makes up brief stories and writes sentences.

  26. My three year old could read like a grade 1 pupil and my 5 year old reads just like a grade 2 to three student after 4 months. The outcomes truly exceeded my anticipations. I followed this wonderful reading manual “Wamzοzο Loli” (Google it) to teach my children. It is so well-organized that any kid can learn to read with it.

  27. The only prominent thing is that the first and last letters are at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem.

  28. Last March, I stumbled upon this reading guideline “Wamzοzο Loli” (Google it). My son and I have already been serious in performing reading lessons since then. I am happy to report that he has been able to read a few books by himself now. My son is now reading with full confidence and his doing really good in class this year as a Kindergarten student.

  29. Yeah finally found someone who hates english spellings like me. I actually lost 2 marks even though all my answers were right just because of spellings!

  30. is it just me who noticed how they used clips of black and white guy about reading and educational attainment

  31. I still trying hard to know how to read in English I speak French but I'm trying hard to know how to read in English is any way I can still need to read in English and listen it can you help me

  32. I think it's schools why we can't learn to read. When I was in kindergarten I learn the alphabet from that but the thing is that didn't really teach me to read that just taught me all the letters. When I really learn to read I taught myself at age 14 the reason it took so long is because school was not helping me to read and pretty much assumed I was not interested in reading and wouldn't really allow me to read myself they had a student read to me. But really it took me till age 14 to learn how to actually read and I was still learning so some words were hard for me. Still some words are hard for me and I can't read to well but trust me I am getting better.

  33. when i started looking for mind reading techniques, i found the revelation effect. it‘s a simple mind reading trick that you can do anywhere, anytime to anyone! if you want to learn it i would recommend this site really hepled me a lot!

  34. It is utter NONSENSE that English words break rules more often than they conform! That is just not how languages work. Human languages are very logical in general, including English. The majority of people may not be consciously AWARE of the rules, but English definitely follows rules; in fact, it follows a lot of damn rules. Even a person with very average reading skills effortlessly applies a ton of them every single time they read or write.
    English absolutely has predictable phonological rules for spelling and pronunciation. It also has very predictable stress patterns. Most of what this chick said about the English language was just flat-out NOT TRUE! For example, about 60% of our vocabulary is based on Latin. I assure you that Latin words most certainly have clearly identifiable rules and patterns.
    It is also true that English has plenty of little oddities and exceptions, but they are EXCEPTIONS. Most people are perfectly capable of memorizing those exceptions as they come, on top of acquiring awareness of predictable rules and patterns.
    You're saying that in English, we can't predict that the borrowed Latin word "matrix" becomes "matrices", just like "dominatrix" becomes "dominatrices"? You're telling me that in English, you can't automatically know that in borrowed French words like "finesse" and "noblesse" the last "e" is silent? It is true that English has, for example, several SETS of rules for various classes of words borrowed from other languages, but we 100% have rules.

  35. Cheers for the Video clip! Forgive me for butting in, I am interested in your initial thoughts. Have you considered – Millawdon Future Ticket Trick (just google it)? It is a great one of a kind product for teaching children to read minus the headache. Ive heard some decent things about it and my close friend Aubrey at last got great success with it.

  36. When I first learned how to read it was so magical at the same time it was hard and easy it helped me do you successful.

  37. Great Video! Sorry for the intrusion, I would love your initial thoughts. Have you considered – Millawdon Future Ticket Trick (Have a quick look on google cant remember the place now)? It is an awesome one of a kind product for teaching children to read minus the headache. Ive heard some decent things about it and my best friend Jordan at last got great success with it.

  38. I'm a survivor of an attempt to re-create the phonetic English writing system. An educational experiment in the 50s-70s utilized here in NY. It is a miracle that I succeeded in overcoming the 'new system' and transitioned to standard English. How? slow, tearful, long periods of time writing and rewriting spelling words from 2nd to 12th grade. The advent of the word processor, when I was in graduate school, helped immensely. Spelling and grammar checkers are helpful BUT can't replace understanding word usage that comes from reading. Today I teach English to refugees and many have never attended school as children. It's hard but I remember how much I wanted to understand those black marks on the pages of the newspaper and books my parents read. We need to be very careful of supporting any effort to revamp English spelling. It will be a wonderful tool to create mass illiterates who will be easy to manipulate through visual media.

  39. Should i read word by word in begining of learning to read or focus on setence ? Plz help me sombody ? What’s right way ?

  40. Watch a 30 mins video in 3 mins. The BEST extension in google chrome store.

  41. Oops

  42. “ Come on English, why?” English DOES follow a few sets of rules, and is more REGULAR than it is irregular. The oldest words in the English language are based on a Germanic language but were eventually recorded by scribes who used the system familiar to them, the Latin/ Roman alphabet. Many of the long vowel spellings, as the one that you reference in your example, were once pronounced exactly as they are still spelled. Over time, pronunciations shift. If standardized spelling shifted as fast, it would be much harder to learn to read, as the code would so frequently change. This example is only one of the layers that make up modern English. If you work on production of a short video on the history of the English language, you’ll find that the keys to unlock the orthography of our morphophonemic language work just fine, and are actually quite fascinating, once you know about them!

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