Max the Yak Likes the Letters X and Y
Pre Alphabetic Course
Stage 0, the pre-alphabetic stage of reading development, begins before students use their knowledge of the alphabet to read words in a book. Early in this stage of development children will ‘pretend to read.’ What they ‘read’ doesn’t match the words on the page because they tell the story in their own words. When asked to write specific words they scribble or write random letters or numbers. At the end of this stage students spell words with beginning and ending sounds. The video above explores the question: How does a teacher develop a pre-alphabetic reader into a partial-alphabetic reader? First, the pre-alphabetic reader needs to match what they say to the words on the page. This is called the speech-to-print match. The first thing a teacher can do is to teach word boundaries, the spaces between words, using text that students know from memory. The teacher models how to point to printed words by using a poem or chant the pre-alphabetic reader knows from memory. At this point the pre-alphabetic reader is ready to read words, but still does not rely on the alphabet. The question that follows is also explored in the video.
How does a child read the words without using letter-sound knowledge? There are three kinds of clues the pre-alphabetic reader uses to guess what the words say. First, they use the language pattern of the book. Second, they use the pictures! Third, they also recognize words as objects that have features of length, shape, and other visual cues. Consider the difference between the shape and length of the word log and the word rock. So the pre-alphabetic reader starts out using everything but letter sounds to read the words on the page.
Watch the video above for further insights into this stage of reading development and how to support pre-alphabetic readers to advance in their literacy skills.