Will technical writing be automated? – Reading aims to understand what you read, but moving from reading automation to comprehension requires time and effort.

In learning to read in Spanish, a series of initial activities (for example, working on phonological awareness ) is necessary to acquire fluency in decoding the written language. Automated word identification mechanisms free up cognitive resources for use in understanding long and syntactically more complex texts.

Knowing how to read to understand what is read: strategies

If we compare it with soccer, we know that the objective of this sport is to score more goals than the rival. Achieving and avoiding opposing plans requires good tactics and playing skills. Just as understanding a text also requires good reading strategies.

When you enter the field of play, like when you open a book, you have to arrive with the correct preparation for the “match”. What we must do is adapt how we must play. In the same way, in reading, we will have to choose the most suitable strategy to deal with each type of text.

from automation to reading comprehension

In soccer, as in reading, there must be a “coach” -a teacher- who evaluates the situation and eventually changes the tactic or makes minor modifications to the planned script—resorting to a new player or delaying a midfielder to more defensive-positions conscious decisions aimed at a goal. Likewise, it is also essential to decide the type of text and the theme to search for information in reading, before or after, that can help better situate a novel’s plot, etc. In both cases, something is programmed from the outset but never in an immovable definitive way.

The reading comprehension system

In comprehension, reading does not depend on a specific neural circuit. It uses the same control capabilities and flexibility to understand a movie or a television debate. The necessary information for reading comprehension is the pronunciation and meaning of each word in the text. In the transition from reading automation to understanding, the reader needs a mechanism for identifying the written words. This guarantees the correct pronunciation and the proper meaning of the words in the text. Therefore, there is a time for decoding and the creation of understanding. They not things that should mixed.

Why can’t reading automation and comprehension work at the same time?

There are two fundamental reasons for not carrying out these two tasks at the same time:

  1. The first is the difficulty of simultaneously paying attention to two different activities. And that happens because they are two distinct abilities that are cognitively very demanding .. Wanting to help the student to overcome a difficulty in automating reading and, at the same time, asking him to extract its meaning or some information from the text is risky. It can mean that the child does not get to perform either of the two tasks well. So while thinking about how the letter “g” reads like the letter “j” before “e” or “i” but not before “a”, “o”, and “u”, you may forget the information essential for understanding the text. On the other hand, as soon as you reflect on why, for example, a particular character in a story wants to do this or that, you will confuse the cases in which “g” read one way or another.
  2. The other reason for not mixing decoding and reading comprehension work associated with the interdependent relationship between decoding and comprehension. If automation is scarce, the passage from reading decoding to comprehension will be unsuccessful. It is useless to ask the child to understand a text he is trying to decode.

Where should we start?

To move from automation to reading comprehension effectively, we must consider that when decoding is still very poor, it will be convenient to work on comprehension itself: the comprehension of oral language.

This is how we will be preparing students to be able to face the comprehension of written texts later. Because even if the texts were read aloud by an adult, the student would familiarise himself with syntactic constructions that more frequent in the written language than in the oral one.

When the decoding is already precise and fast enough, asking the student for an extensive reading of a longer text is justified. If the child, reading to himself, asks how a particular word reads, it is correct to provide him with this information briefly explained. If he fails or hesitates in reading aloud, it is also suitable to correct or help him, but the priority objective must continue to be comprehension.