Weak Short Term Auditory Memory

Decoding of long words is very difficult

One key element of learning to read by decoding is that you have to hold various complex bits of information in your short term auditory memory. There are the phonemes in a word, then when you have blended those you need to keep the word in memory while you look for the meaning of that word. Then you hold that in memory while you do the whole thing again with the next word. And then you hold a series of words in memory as you form a sentence.

So, all this stuff is shooting around in your temporary storage areas of the brain. If your capacity for short-term memory gets overloaded, then you will lose part of what you are trying to remember and the reading process will fail..

Symptoms of weak short-term memory

The key symptoms are:

  • Difficulty remembering lists of things over a period of seconds
  • Difficulty blending longer words
  • Difficulty organising things
  • Difficulty following the meaning of a sentence
  • Slow, stilted reading
  • Tends to get short words okay

The solution for weak short term memory capacity

As your reading improves, elements of the process begin to become automatic. That is because they go into the ‘procedural’ subconscious processing areas. That means they are not putting a load on your ‘declarative’, conscious short-term memory in the same way.

It is a bit like driving a car. When you are learning to drive a car, there seems to be lots of things to remember, everything has to be thought about at the same time and you are very busy. But a year later you can drive along, while chatting to your passenger, without even noticing that you are doing all of those things without a conscious thought.

Reading is the same. The more practice that you get, the easier it becomes, And then the more spare declarative capacity you have for processing the meaning of the text.

So, as a child starts to practice reading, the process is happening in their declarative memory, but slowly moves into procedural memory over a period of months.

I have to say that of all the causes of reading difficulty, this is the slowest and most grinding of solutions for the child. It is hard work, but the result is still achievable and always worthwhile.

During the Easyread course a child will read at least 25,000 words. Doing that is massively aided by the TrainterText that we use. The routine of reading that much, day by day builds experience and will do a lot to move the process from the declarative memory to the procedural memory.