Learning to Read and Skilled Reading: Multiple Systems Interacting Within and Between the Reader and the Text

  • Harry Singer
Part of the Springer Series in Language and Communication book series (SSLAN, volume 17)


The substrata factor theory of reading explains that reading consists of multiple systems, including perceptual, linguistic, cognitive, motivational, affective, and physiological, that interact within the reader and between the reader and the text. An obvious implication is that any theory of reading that is based on only one of these systems must be inadequate. In this chapter it will be shown that this implication applies to Mattingly’s chapter’s linguistically based speculations on the process of reading and learning to read. Further, it will be shown that, in contrast, more adequate explanations have come from other linguists (Gleitman & Rozin, 1977) and from some psychologists (Gough, 1976; Adams & Collins, 1977). Furthermore, it will be shown how multiple systems within the reader must be drawn upon in learning to read by providing a brief description of instructional processes and strategies in teaching reading. Finally, two of Mattingly’s claims will be tested. First, although phonological processes may be bypassed when deaf subjects learn to read, hearing subjects only seem to bypass them as they develop automaticity in reading. Second, there seems to be no evidence to support the hypothesis that there is a critical age for learning to read. Our conclusion is that, although teachers may draw upon linguistic processes in teaching reading, to date there is no valid evidence that linguistic awareness is necessary for learning to read.


Skilled Reader Phonological Process Oral Language Word Identification Reading Instruction 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1984

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  • Harry Singer

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