Reading Matters

Connecting Science and Education


These demos are intended to help you understand some of the phenomena described in the book.

Chapter 2:

Where are the “spaces” between spoken words? 

The lost phonemes of bat

In this video below you can see a recording of the word “bat”. In speech, the whole (the sound “bat”) is more than the sum of its parts. Phonemes are abstract entities in our heads and not precise sounds that we produce. For example, we categorize many sounds as /t/. It is difficult to isolate the parts of the waveform 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/. The waveform for “bat” when played in reverse does not sound like “tab”.

What impact does alphabetic knowledge have on our perception of rhymes?

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).

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 text is presented at a predetermined pace that should give you time to make a guess and write it down.