"No comprende!"

I don't understand?! (And I don't speak Spanish, so I probably have that wrong anyway!)

But this blog post is going to talk about comprehension as a general topic, what it is, and how we help support our clients who are struggling with reading comprehension.

* N.B. Comprehension can also be difficult in regards to understanding and following any directions or language, but for this blog post, we are just focusing on reading comprehension.

Reading involves two distinct tasks - decoding the text on the page, and making sense of it. In my experience, I have had great success, with many learners to achieve the first part - decoding text - through Direct Instruction programs, and lots of practice. The second part, can be a lot harder, and take a lot more work.

Comprehension involves knowledge of words (vocabulary knowledge), background information, the ability to interpret, read between the lines, and so many other specific skills that can be very difficult to break down! These are the things that make it very difficult to teach.

If you can't understand what you're reading, it might seem that reading is a pointless task! And if you struggle to decode words in the first place, it will mean less opportunities to practice.

When you do read for meaning, you learn so many new things - the old saying "the more you read, the more you know" is so true. You are exposed to new words, concepts, ideas - and if you come across something that you don't understand, you can find ways to understand it, or learn more about it.

Teaching and learning how to comprehend is not necessarily straight forward. Research has shown that explicit instruction in specific strategies can be helpful, and there are some great programs that can give an outline of what, and how to teach, struggling comprehenders.

With anything, it will require lots of practice, and opportunities to practice. If you are working with someone who struggles with reading comprehension, modelling and explaining the process you are working through out-loud to demonstrate what you have done, can be helpful. Some other resources that might be of use include any direct instruction programs, or programs that break comprehension skills down into specific skills.

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