Simplifying the Simple View of Reading

decoding and comprehending the simple view of reading

For many parents, and even for some educators, the Simple View of Reading is not so simple.

The Simple View of Reading is an academic paper and a theoretical model in which the authors, Wesley Hoover and Philip Gough, proposed that there are two critical activities involved in learning to read. One is understanding the printed word (decoding and spelling); the other is understanding spoken language (listening comprehension). The two parts must work individually and together. Difficulties with either of these components mean that learning to read will be very challenging.

In fact, deficits in either of the two areas are so significant that they have names of their own. We refer to listening comprehension deficits as Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and we refer to word reading deficits as Dyslexia. These problems may exist on their own, in a “pure” form, as well as mixed together in varying degrees.

While dyslexia is today a familiar part of our vocabulary, specific language impairment is a term that many parents hear for the first time when their child receives a diagnosis. SLI, also known as Listening Comprehension Disorder, is the second most common cause of reading problems after dyslexia. While 15% – 20% of individuals are on the dyslexia spectrum, only 5% – 7% of students are classified as SLI. According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, both SLI and dyslexia have strong genetic links, with 40% or more of students with these conditions having a parent or sibling with similar difficulties.

After nearly 30 years of testing the model, language scientists generally agree that Hoover and Gough were correct. Ongoing research has added to the depth of the definitions, but their Simple View is now used as a basis for structured literacy approaches, such as the Orton-Gillingham method, to improve the reading and spelling skills of students with dyslexia and specific language impairment. Where once children with reading challenges were drilled on word recognition and rote memorization, regardless of the nature of their difficulty, the Simple View highlighted the unique elements of learning and the need for specific and explicit treatment for deficits in each of those areas.

What the Simple View put forth is that students with both diagnoses benefit from a treatment approach that is individual, specific, and structured. Furthermore, early intervention works best. As the Lexercise Clinician’s Manual says, “Recent research (Alt, et al., 2017; Peyrin, et al., 2012) suggests that the underlying deficit(s) in dyslexia may be different for different individuals, highlighting the importance of treatment that is focused on individual patterns as opposed to one-size-fits-all programs.”

If you notice your student is struggling with reading and spelling but you aren’t sure where the trouble lies, have a look at the free Lexercise online learning disability tests. They are designed to help you sort out how much of the trouble might be due to weak listening comprehension and how much due to weak decoding and spelling. This is a vital first step in securing the kind of help that will turn a word-challenged child into a reader.

If you have questions about dyslexia or specific language impairment, please contact us to discuss your child’s options.

Neuroplasticity Research on Dyslexia

Neuroplasticity Research on Dyslexia.png - blogRecent research conducted by neuroscientists at MIT demonstrated that individuals with dyslexia displayed reduced plasticity in brain activity. As you develop, learn new information and have different experiences, connections in your brain alter and change – this is referred to as brain plasticity. Think of it as a lump of clay – You can mould it, connect it to more clay and ultimately change its structure.  

FMRI_scan_during_working_memory_tasksNeurons are cells in the brain that connect with each other to produce an action – similar to a set of dominos. For example, when you touch a hot object, certain neurons connect, sending a message to your body that the object is too hot and you should drop it!

When comparing scans of the brain between those who do have dyslexia versus those who do not, researchers found that scans of dyslexic brains revealed a decrease in neural adaptation upon repetition. That is, when presented with information that was shown in a previous trial, individuals viewed and processed the information as if it was completely new.

2289427576_7eb3b9c724_bSo, what does this mean? How does it affect your child’s behavior and learning capacity? Translated into actions, a symptom of reduced plasticity could mean a decrease in ability to adapt to repetition – both socially (as in face recognition) and academically (as in word repetition and retention). This research may provide an insight into reading difficulties in individuals with dyslexia. Reading involves elements of plasticity, where letters need to be converted into sounds and then blended into words. This can assist with explaining why static learning strategies such as memorization and rote learning may not be as effective for children with dyslexia.

The information provides an explanation as to the importance of flexible connections, however future research will go further to provide solutions for the issue. Lexercise assists with the development of brain plasticity using the researched backed Structured Literacy (Orton-Gillingham) method to improve your child’s literacy skills. Learn more about our live, one-on-one Structured Literacy therapy today.


Trafton, A. (2016, August 8). Study finds brain connections key to reading. Retrieved from


By John Graner, Neuroimaging Department, National Intrepid Center of Excellence, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, 8901 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20889, USA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Image link

Brian Turner Image link

Children Lack Social Skills

helpful-tips-for-homework-time-15Nearly four in five senior primary school staff in the U.K. are worried about their young student’s social skills and speech problems, according to a site called “The Key.”

That is a lot of students, and it is not much different in the United States. The journal Pediatrics published a study in which they found the percentage of kids with disabilities rose 16% and children with mental, emotional, or behavioral problems increased 64.7%.

Children are having trouble carrying on a conversation with proper social etiquette. No matter how smart a child is, communication is vital to their success as a student and eventually as an adult. There are three aspects of the conversation that this article feels that kids need the most work on.

1. How to read nonverbal cues

Nonverbal behaviors include facial expressions, gestures, intonation, proximity, and body language. They are almost 70% of overall communication comprehension. Children are not grasping this concept like they used to, and the consequences can be detrimental. Teach your children how to interact nonverbally by setting an example for them in your own conversations. Take them with you to social gatherings and include them in adult conversations. Do everything you can to subject them to as many interactions as you can.

2. How to take turns

children-1056065_960_720Children are having a harder time being active listeners lately, they may stop talking to allow their conversation partner to speak but they are not listening to them. The groundwork for proper conversation skills is laid when the child is very small. It starts with games like peekaboo and waving goodbye. If your child is past the age of these games, teach them not to interrupt. Start with that and move on to teaching active listener techniques. Tell them a story and ask them to relay it back to you.

3. How to stay on topic

Staying on topic with a conversation will allow them to relate to others. Teach them that it can be fun to learn about others, instead of bringing the conversation back to their interests and opinions. This is a vital skill when making friends for networking purposes in the future. If a person can connect with others, they are more likely to be successful in the future.

A common theme in fixing these problems is limiting technology use. Phones and computers do not teach anything near as important as conversational skills, and those lessons come from you, and the people around them.

For more information about learning disabilities, specifically, dyslexia, visit our website.   

Reading Tools That Don’t Work: Guessing

Helpful Tips for Homework Time (13)

 Blog Bites


  • Public schools teach guessing which is an ineffective way to learn
  • There are four different categories of guessing for reading comprehension
  • If your child is a guesser, there are techniques to reverse their ways of thinking


Guessing instead of learning is a problem that a lot of young students struggle with. Unfortunately, some teachers actually teach students to guess at a word’s identity based on context, the visual appearance of the word, or even pictures on the page. Some professors of education even advocate for this ineffective teaching approach. Almost forty percent of our nation’s fourth graders are not on reading level, and a good portion of these students were likely taught the guessing method.

So, how do we break this habit in our children?

First, you need to identify if your child is indeed a guesser. There are four main types of guessers.

  • bookshelf-32811_960_720First Letter Guesser: They look at the first letter and guess after that. They often mistake words like happy for words like healthy.
  • Word Shape Guesser: They look at the first and last letters of a word in addition to the shape in the middle. They often mistake words like crow for words like crew.
  • Picture Clue Guesser: They look at the pictures near the word in question. They are simply using the words they know from the sentence to fill in the blanks according to what’s happening in the picture.
  • Context Clue Guesser: They will use the words they know in the sentence and their previous knowledge of the situation to fill in the blank. If they came across a sentence like “The cat chases the money” they might guess “mouse” instead of “money” because it makes sense in that context.

If your child fits one of those descriptions, you can try using the blending method at home. All you need is letter tiles (or small pieces of paper with a separate letter on each). Pick a word and separate each letter it uses. Ask your child to sound out each letter individually, and when they have done that, tell them to blend the sounds together. This will act as practice for your child to get used to sounding the letters out without having them physically separated.

This is a multi-sensory technique. Lexercise’s Structured Literacy Curriculum uses research-backed, multi-sensory methods to teach your child how to read, write and spell confidently and independently. Please watch this video to learn how we partner with you to teach your child.

The Case for Audiobooks

Some people will argue that listening to a book does not have the same benefits as reading it yourself. That is true, but just because it does not have the same benefits does not mean it is any less effective.

A popular model of reading is called “The Simple View (Gough & Tumner)” which says that there are two fundamental processes contributing to reading:

  1. decoding
  2. language processing

“Decoding” refers to figuring out words from print, but “language processing” refers to the same mental processes you use for oral language. They are both equally important, and language processing is worked on when listening to a book.girl with earphones

Audiobooks are especially useful for children with dyslexia. When reading is not their favorite thing to do, the next best tactic is to subject them to as many words as possible audibly. They may not be able to decode words as well on the page but they will be able to use them in their everyday conversation.

Another reason why audiobooks are good for children with reading disabilities is that usually, they have superior oral comprehension and high vocabulary. Audiobooks will expose them to complex words, storylines, and concepts that they otherwise would sacrifice by only reading books at their reading level.

Audiobooks will allow children to have a positive relationship with storytelling. They will gather all of the same information without all of the frustration. Listening to audiobooks is not cheating.

You can become a subscriber to audiobooks through one of our partners, Learning Ally.

If your child has trouble with reading skills, visit our website to learn more about what we can do to help.

Brain Training and the Placebo Effect

How to Correct Your Child Without Discouraging them (28)What if you could simply play games to improve your brain? Well, that’s what the brain training industry is suggesting people do and people are buying into it.

According to a popular brain training website,, “You will find some brain fitness workouts that can help your mind process information more quickly and more efficiently, as well as the ability to perform multiple tasks at the same time.”

According to Forbes, “brain-training” is a billion-dollar industry. This market is forecasted to reach $4-10 billion by 2020, but research shows the strategy is a myth.

Brain training usually comes in the form of a digital game, and claims to stretch your mind and “brain fitness.” Some sites claim to improve memory, focus, intelligence, and even brain creativity.

It seems as though pchildren playing video games on the computereople are always looking for a fun, quick, and easy solution instead of sticking with the research-backed road to development– it appeals to those who have “get rich quick” desires.

It might also be a huge market because users claim to see results. But, a new study has examined the possibility of the placebo effect disguised as results and found that this is a likely explanation. 

Cyrus Foroughi and his colleagues at George Mason University tested the placebo effect. They posted two fliers both’s goal to “brain train” but one said “brain training and Cognitive Enhancement” and the other said, “Email today and participate in a study.”

Both groups went through the same hour of “brain training” and the Brain Training group improved their scores on the post-test while the control subjects did not.

According to this information alone, it seems that brain training works, but even brain training advocates say that one hour is not enough to see results. The subjects simply thought they would perform better, so they did. 

Lexercise’s program is backed by real and in-depth research. We see the improvements in our students each and every day. If you think your child may have dyslexia, you can have them take our free dyslexia screener here. 

Facilitate Growth From Frustration

How to Correct Your Child Without Discouraging them (18)Mistakes can cause frustration for your child, but they can also be used to teach your child to process frustration in a healthy way. It will be hard, but you have to let them make mistakes and deal with their frustration on their own before you intervene. If you always do the hard work for them, they will always turn to others for help and one day those people will not be at arm’s reach. Here are some tips for facilitating growth from your child’s frustration.

Encourage the expression of emotions

Tell your child that it is okay to feel frustrated. If you try and ban the emotion, they are just going to become more frustrated.

Take Breaks

All kids need breaks, but kids who have learning disabilities need them more often. Frustration is an emotion that goes hand in hand with disorders like dyslexia– they are simply unavoidable. Taking breaks will allow your child to reset and try again with a clear mind.

Infuse humorPictofigo_Frustration

Being silly with your child will take the pressure off them and lessen their frustration. Having fun will take their mind off the daunting task at hand.

Play board games

Board games are a great way to teach patience, sitting still and taking turns while still being in the form of a game. They will be learning how to deal with frustration without even knowing it.

If you think your child may have dyslexia you can screen them for free in 10 minutes here.

Differences in the Dyslexic Brain

How to Correct Your Child Without Discouraging them (15)It is important to remember that Dyslexia is a neurobiological disorder which means the issues are located inside the brain. Common misconceptions about the cause include poverty, developmental delay, speech, hearing or vision impairments or learning a second language.

According to multiple studies, there are real structural differences in the brains of people with and without reading disabilities.

In these studies, they break down the differences further. The brain is made up of two types of material: gray matter and white matter. Gray matter is mostly composed of nerve cells and it’s primary function is to process information.

brain-147026_960_720The white matter is found in the deeper parts of the brain and acts as the connective fibers that create communication between nerves. The white matter is also responsible for information transfer around the brain.

Researchers Booth and Burman found that people with dyslexia have less gray matter in the left part of the brain than non-dyslexic individuals. These researchers say that this could cause the problems with the sound structure of language.

Interestingly enough, these researchers also found that people with reading disabilities have one area of their left hemisphere larger than the same area on the right.

Laurie Cutting, a human development educator at Vanderbilt University, explains the disadvantages of having decreased white matter. “When you are reading, you are essentially saying things out loud in your head. If you have decreased white matter integrity in this area, the front and back part of your brain are not talking to one another. This would affect reading because you need both to act as a cohesive unit.”

At Lexercise, we work hard to surpass these issues through individualized therapy. Our therapists are trained in the technical side of dyslexia as well as what it takes to navigate the emotional side. If you think your child may have dyslexia, take the free screener here.

After School Reading Practice

How to Correct Your Child Without Discouraging them (7)Most of school is made up of reading, and when you are dyslexic, it can be extremely draining. When your child comes home from a long day, the last thing they want to do is read more. So how do you get them to practice without burning them out?

Social Media and Blog Posts

If your child is old enough to have some social media accounts, don’t steer them away. They will be reading captions and comments about people and things they are interested in. This will also help your child realize that reading is everywhere.

Joke Books

They may just be one line a piece, but it is still practice. They will most likely want to tell their friends and siblings, so they are also practicing memory skills with these books. Joke books replace the stress of reading with laughs, and who knows– they might pick up a great joke or two.

Young_boy_reading_mangaComic Books and Graphic Novels

These are perfect because the illustrations will help guide them through the story line. If they get frustrated with a page, they can skip reading and simply look at the pictures. These publications also have small blurbs of text so it does not look overwhelming to tackle.

Cookbooks, Menus and Online Recipes

Your child will read and then implement the action they just read, which will test and enhance their comprehension skills. This can be a fun activity for you and your child to do together.


Tablet Apps and eBooks

Sometimes reading on technology is more exciting than the paper books they have been looking at all day. Let them switch between playing games and reading, so that they want to read in order to play the games.

Lexercise highly recommends structured literacy therapy to accompany daily practice in order to achieve the best results. If you would like to learn more about our therapy sessions, click here. 

Helpful Homework Tips

Helpful Tips for Homework Time (2)
Homework time has the potential to be a stress-free daily activity to share with your child. It does not have to be the tedious task to cross of the to-do list that so many families treat it as. This time is especially important if your child has a reading disorder, so we feel you should be prepared and have some tricks up your sleeve for navigating this after-school requirement.


Go over homework that needs to be done to create a game plan before he or she gets started. This way they will have a clear plan in mind to attack their to-dos. Once you’ve reviewed what your child needs to do, go over how he or she will do it. For example, divide the homework into parts with breaks in between to recharge. Help your child brainstorm ideas they may need for homework to get an educational dialogue started.


If your child is old enough to use a computer, teach them how to use spell check so that they feel more independent while doing their work. Make sure you are available for any questions they may have but don’t do their homework for them. Be sure to praise them for what they have completed. Encourage them to make notes about what they do not understand, so that they can remember to ask their teacher the next school day.

Moving Forward

Help your child organize their notes for each class into separate folders– color coding is suggested but not necessary. Check to see if they are writing down homework tasks in their planner, if not explain how important
that is to be successful in school. To minimize stress in the mornings, pack up their backpack the night before so they are not frazzled entering the classroom.

As you know, you won’t always be by their side when doing academic work– so help them be independent learners. If they are stuck on an individual problem, challenge them to think of multiple correct ways they can complete the task. Remind your child that quality means more than quantity, so there is no need to rush.

If your child is showing the symptoms of dyslexia, you can test him or her with our free screener here. 

The Simple View of Reading

Reading Comprehension (5)It seems as though there is a plethora of reading problems one could be affected by, but through extensive research, Wesley Hoover who wrote the academic paper The Simple View of Reading has categorized them into two main groups: Listening Comprehension and Decoding & Spelling.

Listening comprehension includes skills such as vocabulary, following spoken directions,
and understanding the nuances of a story that is read out loud. Decoding and spelling problems deal with word and sub-word processing.

The formulaReading Comprehension (6)

The Simple View of Reading has a formula that suggests reading comprehension is equal to listening comprehension multiplied by decoding (word recognition).

In recent years, the formula has been tweaked slightly to increase its accuracy by including fluency, word reading speed and spelling– which is another measure of word and sub-word processing.

The application

The Simple View is related to two categories of reading disorders:

  • Listening Comprehension Deficits = Specific Language Impairment (SLI)
  • Word Reading Deficits = Dyslexia

This is important to consider because specific language impairment and dyslexia require dramatically different interventions.

  • Specific Language Impairment (SLI) requires an intervention that strengthens listening comprehension.
  • Dyslexia requires a structured literacy intervention such as the Orton-Gillingham method.

We value your time and resources, so we focus on the side of the formula where intervention can make the biggest difference.  This will differ from person to person, so Lexercise personalizes instruction to each student.

Early Intervention is Necessary to Success

   5 Websites and Tech Tools to Motivate Reading PracticeA study by the University of California, Davis and Yale University suggests that the current emphasis on reading by 3rd grade may be too late. They found that dyslexia should attempt to be identified and addressed as early as pre-K. The research team used a sample from the Connecticut Longitudinal Study who had their reading skills assessed each year from preschool through the 12th grade. Seventy-nine of the sample children were identified as dyslexic based on their scores on assessments given in the 2nd or 4th grade, but the team found that the dyslexic readers had lower scores as early as 1st grade.

boy-and-girl-readingThis new information urges parents and teachers to pay special attention to reading and writing difficulties a child may be facing, earlier than previously suggested. As a dyslexic child gets older without proper intervention, their issues will only hinder them further in their educational performance not to mention their self confidence. Early intervention with children who show signs of dyslexia can make a huge difference later on in their lives.

Here are some tips from The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity for spotting dyslexia at an early age:

  • Observe language development. Pay attention to issues with rhyming, pronunciation and word finding.
  • Observe their ability to connect print to speech.
  • Look into your family history. Children are 50% more likely to be dyslexic if one of their parents is dyslexic.

Remember to focus on the strengths and weaknesses, do not let the weaknesses define your child’s life. If you suspect your child may have dyslexia, you can screen them here. Early intervention is key to your child’s success so please don’t hesitate to call if you suspect your child may have a learning disability: 1-919-747-4557.