Reading Comprehension and Sentend Structure
To improve readers’ comprehension, the “Accomplish Reading” app presents users with carefully constructed sentence pairs. Understanding the construction of the sentence pairs requires explanation of “surface structure” and “deep structure.”
Noam Chomsky used these terms in discussing his transformation grammar. The concept of “surface structure” and “deep structure” was used in the design of “Accomplish Reading-Part 2.” Using “surface structure” sentences and “deep structure” sentences induced readers to focus carefully on the meaning of sentences.
To clarify, readers might look at pairs of sentences with similar surface structures, but different deep structures. Conversely, they may look at pairs of sentences with the same deep structure, but very different surface structure. When students are asked to discern whether the sentences have the same meaning or different meanings, they develop better comprehension monitoring skills which leads to better reading comprehension.
For instance, readers may be asked whether “Does the boy run behind the house?” have the same meaning as “Does the boy run beside the house?” This might trip them up. Except for one word, the surface structure is the same. “Beside” and “Behind” are prepositions with different meanings. Reading prepositions accurately is critical to good comprehension. Practicing discerning sentences with almost similar meanings teaches readers to pay attention to prepositions and little words.
Looking at deep structure, readers might be asked, “Does the sentence, ‘The horse ate the apple” have the same meaning as ‘The apple was eaten by the horse?’” In this pair, because of the passive voice, the surface structure is different, but the deep structure is the same. Readers need to practice discerning sentences with the same deep structure, but different surface structures.
To provide this practice, “Part 2: Do They Have the Same Meaning?” displays 80 sentence pairs for developing comprehension monitoring skills. The program provides immediate feedback. If the answer is incorrect, the user interface encourages readers to re-read before they go. Re-reading is an important reading strategy. . The patent for “Accomplish Reading” is filed as US 10 074 588 (A Method of Displaying Content for Reading Training Comprehension Monitoring).
“Accomplish Reading” app improves sentence structure. It trains readers to realize when sentences make sense and when they don’t.. Exercises in discerning meaning in sentences with different structures helps this awareness. Focusing on sentence meaning, readers know that meaning does not reside in individual words, but in a group of words. With this understanding, they read actively, constructing meaning and storing ideas in memory for later retrieval.
Jane Offutt, Ph.D., Reading Specialist