Reading Matters

Connecting Science and Education


Several of the demos have to be downloaded to use (sorry). They are Powerpoint files, not very large. They should work in your version of PPT, but please alert me if there are any glitches. For security purposes, files are saved as locked, read-only documents in the Powerpoint show (.pps) format. They are plain vanilla files that do not do anything other than play when you open them.

Chapter 2:

Where are the “spaces” between spoken words? 

Click the download button to download a read-only PowerPoint presentation that will automatically play when you open it. Audio is needed for this demo.

The lost phonemes of bat

In this video below I experimented with a recording of the word “bat”. I played portions of the waveform, trying to isolate parts that correspond to the phonemes /b/ /a/ and /t/. The results don’t sound much like three isolated sounds. The /b/ and /t/ are especially hard to find. Nothing toward the end of the wave sounds remotely like /t/. There’s a part that sounds like /at/ but
the leftover part at the beginning doesn’t sound like /b/. In speech, the whole (the sound “bat”) is more than the sum of its parts. I then played the waveform backward, showing that “bat”
played in reverse does not sound like “tab”.

The same recording is then shown as a spectrogram. Time again runs from left to right, but the vertical axis is the frequencies of the sounds. Amplitude is now coded by the colors. The addition of this third dimension does not cause phonemes to emerge. It takes spelling to do that.

Chapter 4:

Calculate your reading speed (p. 83): Easy.
(At about 5 wpm, the text takes almost exactly a minute to read.
But, the text is a little difficult. Speed will also depend on how carefully you read it.)

  1. Record the number of seconds it takes to read the text. (Just the text. Don’t include the time spent answering the question.)
    309 words ÷ number of seconds = your words per second (wps)
  2. Then, multiply wps by 60 to get words per minute (wpm)

Example: say a person took 75 seconds to read the text.
309 ÷ 75 = 4.12 words per second
4.12 x 60 = 247 words per minute

Another way to calculate wpm: 309 x 60/number of seconds = words per minute
For this example: 309 x 60/75 = 309 x .8 = 247 words per minute

Chapter 5:

The transposed letter effect
Why FCUK is an effective product logo, and JUGDE is misperceived as JUDGE. The Cambridge Hoax relied on our ability to override the transposition of bigrams (two adjacent letters). Click the download button to download a read-only PowerPoint presentation that will automatically play when opened.

Chapter 7:

Van Orden effect
Demonstration of the impact of phonology in silent reading.

Chapter 11:

How predictable are words in texts?
Try the Cloze procedure. Very simple. You read a text, a news article about Tibet, and have to guess every 5th word. You read the first 4 words and then guess the next one. You’re shown the correct answer and the text continues: 4 more words, then guess again. You should write down your guesses so you can look at them afterwards. The file will open in Powerpoint and play automatically. The text is presented at a predetermined pace that should give you time to make a guess and write it down.