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Humans in all cultures go through the same stages of language development. While normal humans learn their native languages with little effort, learning a second language becomes more difficult after age 11.
Language comprehension develops faster than language production, and many people can understand more of a language than they can produce. Language is full of ambiguities or expressions with more than one meaning. A big challenge for language comprehension is resolving ambiguities.
Reading involves at least three interacting parallel processes. Phonetic processing is the translation of letters into sounds and sounds into words. Lexical processing involves retrieval of word meanings. Structural processing involves larger scale patterns such as sentence grammar and story structure.
Good readers attempt to reconstruct the author's meaning. Unsuccessful students are more likely to concentrate on memorizing vocabulary or finishing a reading assignment without really understanding it.
Speedreading appears to be based on a series of wrong assumptions or bad advice. In one study, professors read at about the same rate as spoken speech.
Summarization processes are important in reading. Readers must summarize what they read as they go along. Reviews and summaries are common in professional writing.
Revision is important for good writing. Studies show that beginning writers seldom make large-scale revisions. They correct spelling and grammatical errors but they seldom rearrange major sections of their work. Large-scale revision is highly desirable, and modern word processors make it easy.
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