So I thought I’d dig out a little poster I used to remind students about how to proofread. (“Proofread out loud. You get a message from your ears and a message from your eyes. Trust your ears to catch the message you want to write.”)
I found that many adult literacy learners were much more strongly oriented towards the visual than the auditory. Here’s an example of what I mean. Audrey wrote in her story something like this:
Tomorrow I am going to going to go to school.
When she read it back to me, she said, “Tomorrow I am going to go to school,” but she didn’t notice the error in her text.
I said, “I heard you say, ‘Tomorrow I am going to go to school,’ but that’s not exactly what you wrote. Do you see the difference in what I hear and what my eyes see?”
Audrey was game to look, but as soon as she focused on the text, she lost the fluidity with which she had spoken earlier. She read “Tomorrow I am going to (pause) going to go to school.” She read it with the pause, so it sounded natural.
I asked her to read it again. Her focus on the text was so strong that she could no longer remember what she had said on her initial reading–she just kept trying to make what she had written make sense, even though that was impossible.
I asked her to turn her chair away from the computer, so she couldn’t see what she had written on the screen, and got her to rehearse her sentence several times, using the prompt, “Where are you going tomorrow?–Tomorrow I …” When she had said it enough times to get it firmly in her ear, she was ready to go back to looking at the text to find the difference between what she said and what she wrote, but for her the weakness of her auditory sense was part of what made proofreading difficult.
I wonder if any of you readers of this blog have noticed in your students, especially at the basic literacy levels, examples of a weakness in auditory awareness–difficulty changing the stress on syllables, for example, or inability to clap out a rhythm. And if so, what do you do about it?