Stages of Reading
The process of ‘learning to read’ and ‘reading
to learn’ has been conceptualized along a continuum
of stages (Chall, 1983), which provides the conceptual framework
to better understand and assess reading performance from linguistic
and culturally diverse students.
Among these are the Khmer language background students in
USA classrooms who are the children or grandchildren of Cambodian
refugees. These children, born in the United States exhibit
varying degrees of proficiency in both Khmer and in English.
In the Lowell Public Schools, most of the Cambodian students
have not had instruction in the reading and writing of the
Khmer language; they learn to read and write through English.
Many of the American English words used in their instruction
may be totally unknown to them in terms of understanding and
speaking. Therefore, there is no influence of print but there
is an influence of sound and culture.
Linguistic influences in English encompass several factors:
- The students’ pronunciation of words and sounds
in English, given the
- The second language
stage reached by each student.
- The knowledge and understanding of the words being used
- Monolingual American English learner is growing
though the process of native language development.
On the other hand, a Khmer background student is acquiring
English as an additional language and exhibits different
levels of proficiency.
- Relies on their non-visual information and contextual
knowledge to begin reading. Khmer background students
usually rely on visual information and their cultural
funds of knowledge which are likely to be different
from the majority culture.
- Knows the English alphabet (if available in environmental
- Uses logographic information to make guesses about
- Knows that letters represent speech sounds.
- Understands that speech sounds can be represented
- Attempts to break the written language code.
and Fluency Stage
- Reads orally.
- Reads written text with increasing fluency.
- Consolidates knowledge graphophonic English elements
and contextual meaning depending on the level of background
knowledge in monolingual American English.
- Progressively acquires orthographic knowledge of
- Reaches automaticity in word recognition.
Note: Chall often calls this stage
as "more of the same", the learner needs the
opportunity to sharpen the skills of reading - translating
graphic symbols into meaningful language.
for Learning the New Stage
- Reads is to learn new information.
- Reading FLUENCY and GRAPHOPHONICS have been mastered
in English as L1.
- Expands vocabulary.
- Builds background knowledge.
Stage 4 (high school)
- Analysis written expository and narrative text
- Analyzes what has been read and reacts critically
to the different viewpoints encountered.
- Reader deals with learning from multiple viewpoints.
- Understands multiple points of view.
& Reconstruction Stage
Stage 5 (college)
- Reading serves to integrate one's knowledge with
that of others, to synthesize it.
L1 – Primary/Native Language
L2 – Second language
Adapted from: Chall, J. (1983). © by Professor Maria
de Lourdes Serpa (1983,2005).
To learn more: Chall’s
Stages of Reading Development