Interventions to Improve Lexical Processes

June 25, 2020
Difficulties in learning how to read are a common problem in children. In this article, we'll talk about ways to improve lexical processes.

Reading is a complex activity that involves four types of processes: perceptual, lexical, syntactic, and semantic. In this article, we’re going to focus on interventions to improve lexical processes.

Nowadays, knowing how to read well is essential for achieving optimal development. But, unfortunately, many children have a hard time learning this cognitive ability.

In these cases, it’s necessary to start and implement methods for reading training as soon as possible.

Difficulties in lexical processes

Lexical processes allow for word recognition and access to their meaning. Thus, they start when a word is processed. To perform this operation, Coltheart’s DRC model of reading describes two types of routes:

  • The lexical route. The words that are stored as knowledge are read visually.
  • The phonological route, which deals with the conversion of graphemes into phonemes to arrive at a meaning. In other words, the process through which letters are transformed into sounds.

In this sense, when a child presents difficulties in lexical processes, it may be due to three different types of subproblems:

  • Difficulties in the lexical route: surface dyslexics.
  • Problems in the phonological route: phonological dyslexics.
  • Difficulties in the development of both routes.
Interventions to Improve Lexical Processes

Therefore, the intervention to improve lexical processes should be carried out by exercising the lexical route, the phonological route – or both, depending on the child’s difficulties.

Interventions to improve lexical processes

Children with problems in the lexical route have a limited number of words stored as familiar in their memory. In fact, they have to decode pretty much everything they read. Therefore, it’s necessary to intervene so that they develop the ability to access the visual representation of words.

On the other hand, children with difficulties in the phonological route haven’t developed the ability to convert letters into sounds to arrive at the meaning of words. Thus, you should help them to achieve the following goals:

  • Be aware of the different phonological units that must be related to the corresponding graphemes.
  • Acquire or increase the ability to use the rules for converting letters into sounds.
  • Increase the degree of automation of these rules.

Various intervention methodologies to improve lexical processes can help children train these aspects.

Methodologies to improve lexical processes in the lexical route

Reading words and pseudowords

The goal of this method is for the child with problems using the lexical route to improve their reading fluency and speed. And, also, automate visual reading with repeated practice.

To do this, the child must read a list of words and a list of pseudowords out loud during a period of at least four consecutive days. Also, they need to be told when they make a mistake so that they can read the word again. These lists change every week, and you must record the time and number of errors in order to see if there’s an improvement.

Then, repeat each list after a few days to consolidate and store the read words in their memory.

Simultaneous presentation of drawings with the corresponding words

Interventions to Improve Lexical Processes

This methodology consists of making the child read and memorize a series of words and associate them with their drawings. This way, it’s possible to develop an accurate and fast reading of the words, keeping their symbolic representations in mind.

After several days of training, only present the words without the drawing, and the child must say them aloud.

Gradual deletion of words in paragraphs

This is a method to work on the visual recognition of the lexicon. It’s based on the repeated reading of a text but, in each repetition, the main words of the paragraphs are gradually suppressed. Thus, the child must fill these missing words from memory.

Methodologies to improve lexical processes in the phonological route

Onomatopoeic method

The goal of this method is to achieve the acquisition of the ability to attribute sounds to the corresponding graphemes. To do this, present each of the letters of the alphabet, associated with a shape they look like. For example, you can represent the letter “s” with a snake.

This way, you offer the child a visual aid that facilitates the memory of the grapheme and its sound.

Word pairs method written with manipulable letters

This method consists of writing two words that have some grapheme in common with manipulable letters (made of plastic, wood, cardboard, etc.). After that, read both words aloud so that the child realizes that they also share the same sound (for example, car and cab).

After this, the child has to copy these words on a piece of paper and name each letter as they write them. This way, they acquire the ability to associate graphemes and phonemes.

  • Castejón, L. (2013). 10 minutos diarios: entrenamiento de lectura para el verano 2013. Oviedo: Universidad de Oviedo, Departamento de Psicología.
  • Coltheart, M. (1980). Deep dyslexia: a review of the síndrome. En M. Coltheart, K.E. Patterson y J.C. Marshall (Ed.), Deep Dyslexia, (pp. 22-47). Londres: Routledge y Kegan Paul.
  • Ramos, J. L. (2000). Procesos de lectura y escritura: descripción, evaluación e intervención. Venezuela: EOEP, Facultad de Educación (UEX).