glossary of reading terms


Clear, simple definitions that readers can understand and work With,

In alphabetical order

Auditory Memory

Auditory memory is memory of the sound of what you just spoke, or heard someone else say, or heard in your inner voice (where there was no actual physical sound).


Automaticity is saying a word as an entity without pausing in the middle of saying it. Let us use the example "Mississippi". Instead of saying "mi-si-sip-ee" you say "Mississippi" cleanly, and without any breaks, and with proper accent. When a person decodes a word slowly, pausing between parts, they are not saying the word with automaticity. Automaticity is the next forward step after decoding.

Cognitive Dissonance

As pertains to reading, this refers to a type of guessing in which a person guesses at a particular word and then, in order to make that incorrect word make sense, changes the meaning of one or more little words on either side of the word originally guessed at. Once pointed out, this type of guessing is easy to stop.

Cognitive Interval

This is the amount of text one reads at a time. In increasing length the Cognitive Intervals are: a single word, a prepositional phrase, a punctuation interval, a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter sub-section, a chapter, a book section, a book. By matching the presentation of text with the right cognitive interval for where a student is at in his or her reading progress, one can immediately eliminate reading anxiety, and being overwhelmed by too much text at a time.

Recently it has become possible to combine cognitive intervals when reading. For example, reading a word at a time within a phrase, or a phrase at a time within a punctuation interval. This capability means that almost every learning challenge can be addressed instantly. Unfortunately, most school teachers K-12 have no idea that this capability exists.

Cognitive Projection

This can occur in two ways. First, when a person does not know a word, he or she will often just guess at what the rest of the phrase or sentence is saying. In this context, Cognitive Projection is a form of guessing.

The second type of Cognitive Projection occurs when readers just project what they think the sentence is saying, without ever trying to read what is actually there. Understanding usually becomes greatly flawed.


Decoding is sounding out the word by first saying the sound of each letter or letter group (th, sh, ch, ing, ly, tion, ance, ence). For example, in decoding the word “bat” one would first say the sound of the letter “b” (not the name of the letter). Then one says the sound of the letter “short a”. Then one says the sound of the letter “t”. Next one combines the sound of the letters “b” + “a” and then adds the sound of the letter “t”. This would look like this: “ba + t”. Finally, one combines all three letter sounds together smoothly as “bat”.

Decoding refers to using the 47 basic phonemes of the English language. Decoding is different from spelling. In spelling you say the names of the letters; in decoding you use the sounds of the individual letters or letter combinations.


This refers to the tendency when reading or spelling to twist up letters, either in the word being looked at or spelled, or by including part of the word above, below or on either side. There are many specific causes of Dyslexia which can be corrected almost immediately. Assistive technology and training can instantly enable almost any dyslexic to read just as well as anybody else. The problem is that most people do not know this help exists.


Fluency is saying all the words with automaticity and smoothly until you get to a comma or other punctuation mark, where you pause. Then you repeat this process with the next punctuation interval.

Inner Voice

This is a voice you hear inside your head without ever saying anything out loud, or whispering, or moving your lips, or moving your Adams Apple. Hearing an inner voice is a major key to reading faster with better comprehension. Anybody can learn to read with an inner voice using modern technology. Unfortunately, about half of all readers in K-12 never learn how to do this.

Machine Gun Reading

This type of reading occurs when someone just reads through the punctuation marks like a period or comma without pausing and thinking about what was just read. Often students mistakenly think they have read something if they just quickly go through the words.

Music of Text, Music of Sentence

All text has music to it. This is because shorter direction words are used to introduce longer object words. Each phrase and each punctuation interval and each sentence has a rhythm to it. Understanding and listening to the rhythm or music in a sentence can increase comprehension. Very quickly one can learn to experience this rhythm visually from looking at the relative length of words and at the punctuation points.

Proportional Reading (PR)

This is an approach to learning to read form the very beginning levels and skills to reading 1,000 words per minute. This approach uses technology to develop transferrable skills for reading regular books. The approach is based in three parts: initial evaluation where progressive technology is matched appropriately to each individual’s specific needs and learning style, independent practice, and periodic consultation as needed.

The name comes from the fact that in this approach, presentation of text always follows (is proportional to) voice patterns of human speech learned as children. This occurs whether we  are using real human voice, synthesized voice at speaking speed, visual simulation of speech, or high-speed voice and text.

Punctuation Interval

A Punctuation Interval is all the words from the beginning of the sentence to the first comma or other punctuation mark. Then, all the words from that mark to the next punctuation mark in the sentence. Often a short sentence will just have one punctuation interval, ending in a period.


In learning to read, remediation usually refers to extra help with mastering the basic skills of decoding, automaticity and fluency.

Situational Dyslexia

This is a twisting up of words that can happen to anyone at certain special times and is easy to correct. Often when one cannot get the answer to a question, one grabs wildly for anything in the area that is close, much like a drowning man. This type of dyslexia is limited to certain situations and is differentiated from real dyslexia, which is an ongoing problem for some readers.


This means moving your Adams Apple as you read. You are not actually making sounds as in talking or whispering, but you are using your muscles, and therefore, you are limited to very slow speed. Most people do not know when or if they are doing this. Many people quit reading or fall way behind simply because they have never been told how to read faster than they talk. As a result they are bored out of their minds. It is very easy to learn how to overcome subvocalization and reading out loud speed.

Transferable Skills

These are skills that you learn using technology, which you then apply to reading text in regular page and book format.

Visual Memory

This is memory of the individual pictures or movies (linked pictures) that the mind sees or makes up. With proper training almost everyone can turn descriptive text into a series of pictures and movies.

WPM (Words Per Minute)

This is the number of words read in a minute. Normal speaking out loud rate is 150-210 WPM. To be successful in college, you usually need to read at least 350 WPM.

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