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Dyslexia Terms: A Glossary

Alphabetic A writing system containing characters or symbols representing sounds.

Alphabetic Knowledge Knowing letters of the alphabetic and knowing that letters are used for writing.

Alphabetic Layer of Instruction The first layer of word study instruction focusing on letters and letter-sound correspondence.

Alphabetic Principle Understanding that letters represent speech sounds and that spoken words can be written down by combining letters that code the sounds.

Analytic Approach An approach to phonics instruction that separates a whole word into its constituent parts for further study.

Aural Perceived by the ear, through listening

Beginning period of literacy development A period of literacy development that begins when students have a concept of word and can make sound-symbol correspondences. This period is noted for dysfluent reading and writing, and Letter Name spelling.

Biological Forces The physical endowments of the human brain which control the coordination of thousands of muscles necessary for speaking and listening.

Closed Syllables A closed syllable ends with or is "closed" by a consonant sound. In polysyllabic words, a closed syllable contains a short vowel sound that is "closed" by two consonants (rabbit, racket). See open syllable.

Cognitive Forces Mental processes through which knowledge is acquired.

Concept of a Word The ability to match spoken words to printed words as demonstrated by the ability to point to the words of a memorized text while reading. This demonstration must include one or more two-syllable words.

Developmental Level One of five stages of spelling development. Preliterate, Letter Name, Within Word Pattern, Syllable Juncture, or Derivational Constancy.

Emergent Period of Literacy Development A period of literacy development ranging from birth to beginning reading. This period corresponds to the Preliterate stage of spelling development.

Fluency The ease with which students translate print to speech.

Frustration Level A dysfunctional level of instruction where there is a mismatch between instruction and what an individual is able to grasp. This mismatch precludes learning and often results in frustration.

Independent Level That level of academic engagement in which an individual works independently, without need of instructional support, Independent level behaviors demonstrate a high degree of accuracy, speed, ease, and fluency.

Instructional Level A level of academic engagement in which instruction is comfortably matched to what an individual is able to grasp.

Instructional Placing The point where instruction begins in a scope and sequence. Instructional placing implies that not all students begin at the same place.

Language Experience An approach to the teaching of reading in which students read about their own experiences recorded in their own language. Experience stories are dictated by the student to a teacher who writes them down. Dictated accounts are re-read in unison, in echo-fashion, and independently. Known words are lifted out of context and grouped by various phonic elements.

Letter Name Spelling Stage The second stage of spelling development in which students represent beginning, middle, and ending sounds of words with phonetically accurate letter choices. Often the selections are based on the sound of the letter name itself, rather than abstract letter-sound associations. The letter name H ("aitch"), for example, produces the "ch" sound and is often selected to represent that sound rather than the abstract, "huh."

Logograph A symbol that represents meaning; picture writing (e.g., McDonald's archers, neon ice-cream cone in a store window); a whole word in a special (unique) context (e.g., Coca-Cola, Hersey's, Pepsi).

Logographic Layer of Reading The first layer of symbol reading where the visual symbol is readily associated with the spoken word (e.g., Pepsi) and what the word represents (e.g., soft drink).

Onset The onset of a single syllable or word is the initial consonant(s) sound. The onset of the word sun is /s/. The onset of the word slide is /sl/.

Open Syllable An open syllable ends with a long vowel sound ( labor, reason). (See closed syllable).

Orthography / Orthographic Orthography refers to the writing system of a language, specifically, the correct sequence of letter, characters or symbols.

Pattern Letter sequences that function as a unit are related to a consistent category of sound. Frequently these patterns form rhyming families, as in the "-ain" of Spain, rain, and drain.

Pattern layer of information The second layer or tier of English orthography in which patterns of letter sequences, rather than individual letters themselves, represent vowel sounds. This layer of information was acquired during the period of English history following the Norman Invasion. Many of the vowel patterns of English are of French derivation.

Phoneme The smallest unit of speech that distinguishes one word from another. For example, the t of tug and the r of rug are two English phonemes. In English, some phonemes are represented by combinations of letters (e.g., /th/, /sh/), and some letters represent more than one phoneme (e.g., c, g, a, e, i, o, u).

Phonemic Awareness Refers to the ability to consciously attend to individual sounds in a spoken language. Phonemic awareness is often assessed by the ability to tap or push a penny forward for every sound heard in a word like cat: /c/ /a/ /t/.

Phonological Awareness The ability to attend the phonological or sound structure of language as distinct from its meaning. Types of phonological awareness include word awareness, syllable awareness, rhyme awareness, and phonemic awareness.

Phonological Decoding Translating the letters or spelling patterns of a written word into speech patterns in order to identify the word and to gain access to its meaning.

Phonological Encoding Writing a letter or word based on its sound. (spelling)

Phonological Recoding Translating the spelling of written words into the speech sounds they represent.

Preliterate Spelling Stage The first stage of spelling development before letter-sound correspondences are learned and coordinated with printed word boundaries. This spelling stage coincides with the emergent period of literacy development (see emergent period of literacy development above).

Preconsonant nasals Nasals that occur before consonants, as in the words bump or sink. The vowel is nasalized as part of the air escapes through the nose during pronunciation.

Print awareness (orthographic awareness) Awareness of how print works and how it looks. Print is made up of letters, the letters correspond to sounds and words, and text is read from left to right across the page.

Progressive skill development A progression of word study activities that increase in thinking skills: The lower levels of word study activity require only recognition or recall of the spelling features studies. The higher levels of word study require students to judge (as in discriminate) and apply what they have learned.

Rimes A rime unit is composed of the vowel and any following consonants within a syllable. For example, the rime unit in the word "tag" would be -ag.

Scaffold A form of support. The familiar structures of oral language offer a form of support for beginning readers.

Segmentation The process of separating spoken sentences or words into component parts--sentences into words, words into syllables and phonemes (sounds).

Spelling The construction of words with letters in a standard order. A synonym for orthography (see orthography).

Synthetic Approach An approach to phonics instruction that begins with individual letter-sounds that are blended together to form a word. Synthetic phonics starts with the parts and builds up to the whole. Analytic phonics starts with the whole and breaks it down into parts (see analytic approach).

Transitional stage of literacy development A period of literacy development when learners are becoming fluent in reading easy materials. Silent reading becomes the preferred mode. There is some expression in oral reading. This stage is between the beginning and intermediate stages of literacy development. The period corresponds to the Within Word Pattern stage of spelling development.

Within Word Pattern spelling stage The third stage of spelling development that coincides with the transitional period of literacy development. Within Word Pattern spellers have mastered the basic letter-sound correspondences of written English, and they grapple with letter sequences which function as a unit, especially long vowel patterns. Some of the letters in the unit may have no sound themselves. These "silent" letters, such as silent e in snake or the silent i in drain, serve as important "markers" in the pattern.

Zone of proximal development (ZPD) A term coined by the Russian psychologist Vygotsky referring to the ripe conditions for learning something new. A person's ZPD may be described as the comfort zone for learning something new. What is to be learned should build comfortably on knowledge and skills that are firmly in place. It must not be so unrelated to that knowledge base and life experiences that the child cannot link in a meaningful way what is known to what is to be learned. The term is similar to the concept of instructional level (see instructional level).