How to beat dyslexia

Usha Goswami gave this year’s Broadbent Lecture at the Annual Conference, suggesting that the rhyme and rhythm of different languages holds the key to dyslexia.
Why do some children learn to read well, while others of similar intellectual ability struggle to become proficient? And why is a Finnish child reading with 90 per cent accuracy by the 10th week of schooling, while an English child is not? Although reading and its development were never part of Donald Broadbent’s wide and varied research interests, he liked research topics that were grounded in real-world problems. I hope to illustrate in this article that reading acquisition by children is a real-world problem that can be addressed by the rigorous psychological methods championed by Donald. I will argue that part of the answer to disparities in reading acquisition lies in the difficulty of the learning problem itself. Reading is a cultural activity, and reading does not develop without direct tuition. Successful learning depends on at least two key factors: possessing the precursor skills needed to benefit from this tuition, and the nature of the orthography being learnt.

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