Nov. 14, 2002, Gazette
|Dr. Catherine Penney
Dr. Catherine Penney has discovered the key
to what she believes is a major barrier for dyslexic learners. The professor
in Memorials Department of Psychology has found that dyslexics not
only have trouble reading, but actually have difficulties with hearing
and remembering the sounds of words.
Dr. Penney, working with Dr. Carrie Dyck of the Department of Linguistics
at Memorial, has discovered that dyslexics dont hear differences
between certain sounds, such as dog and bog.
Different children confuse different sounds, says Dr. Penney,
but all of the dyslexic children failed to hear some sound differences.
Many dyslexics dont show obvious language impairment and are skilful
communicators. However, dyslexic children cannot break the words into
Dr. Penney has developed a method for teaching children with dyslexia
how to read. Rather than using phonics, which teaches phonemes in isolation,
her method teaches spelling for pronouncable units such as syllables or
rimes, vowel sounds followed by one or more consonant sounds.
With this method, children learn to add different
consonants to the beginning of the rime and to add endings such as ing
to the end. From there, they progress to polysyllabic words.
The experiments conducted by Drs. Penney and Dyck have proven successful.
Dr. Penney states, clearly, this method works to teach people to
read, when existing methods arent working. Their method has
produced favourable results with both children and adults with mild to
severe forms of dyslexia. Dr. Penney states that of all the people she
has seen, nearly everyone has reached a functional literacy level.
As for the future, Dr. Penney is working with Innova Multimedia, a company
based in Stephenville that has been associated with the Genesis Centre
at Memorial. She hopes to develop computerized lessons, using her technique,
that teachers can use to assist poor readers at any level.