THE BIG REVEAL: Which dyslexia and other organisations continue to promote seriously flawed methods and advice?
13th January 2017
Marilyn Jäger Adams: The Three Cueing System (the origins – and the tragedy described in the summary)
16th January 2017
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World-renowned Dr Kerry Hempenstall writes: The Three-Cueing Model: Down for the Count?

Further to my previous blog post, THE BIG REVEAL: Which dyslexia and other organisations continue to promote seriously flawed methods and advice? which illustrated the extremely worrying set of circumstances whereby so many organisations continue to promote multi-cueing reading strategies for working out unknown printed words – either diminishing the importance of phonics all-through-the-word decoding or, truly shockingly, sometimes not even mentioning ‘phonics’ at all.

This is an extraordinary state of affairs considering the wealth of international research findings into reading instruction (much conducted prior to 2000) – and it is extremely worrying for those children requiring ‘intervention’ in that they are the very children most in need of high-quality, explicit, systematic synthetic phonics teaching. Teaching, promoting, encouraging, or causing multi-cueing guessing strategies by default (by asking the children to read books that they cannot really read) is the worst possible route for slower to learn children, children with impoverished spoken languages and children with various processing difficulties.

In response to my previous blog post where I invited people to contact me, I did indeed receive a number of emails – with links of further examples – including the one that I’ve copied below. I’ve included this further example in this post so that having looked at the reading strategies described, you can then read Dr Kerry Hempenstall’s article, The Three-Cueing Model: Down for the Count? which refers to exactly these kind of strategies and illustrates how they are discredited by the body of research into reading.

The guidance below comes from the government-funded Read Write Now programme in Western Australia. Please note that even the ‘pre-reading discussion’ to ‘stimulate prediction‘ will leave very little for the learner to work on independently. He or she will already have been given, arguably, too much information through the pre-discussion and the walk through the book! Compare that with the method shown on the video footage for the No Nonsense Phonics Skills material (you can go straight to 6mins 15secs for the classroom scene) whereby the children are asked to read the Mini Story before the teacher goes through the material with the children collectively. The children in this video are five to six years old – half way through Year One:


Now here is the very worrying whole language guidance sent to me by a concerned person in Australia:

Tips for Tutors – Home Improvement

  1. Parts of the text

Before your student begins to read a story, it is useful to discuss the different parts of a book, especially if your student is from a CaLD background. For example:

  • The cover (the outside cover of a book)
  • The title page (the beginning of the book, containing the title of the book, the author and illustrator)
  • The text (the actual words of the story)
  • The blurb (this is usually on the back or inside cover of a book and gives the reader an idea what the book is about)

When discussing the parts of a book, you may wish to explain the role of each of the parts as well as distinguishing the author from the illustrator.

  1. Pre-reading discussion

This is a vital step in the reading process – don’t skip it!

The pre-reading discussion involves going through the book with your student, paying attention to the headings and the pictures in order to stimulate prediction. For example:

  • Read the title of the book and look at the picture on the cover. Discuss what the book could be about.
  • Go through the book, looking at the pictures. Talk about each page, asking questions to prompt your student (i.e. “What do you think is happening here?”)
  • ‘Gobsmackers’ are meant to be funny – encourage your student to lighten up and have a laugh!
  1. Choose the level of reading support

Before beginning the story, consider the level of reading support your student might need.

  • Do you first need to read the story aloud to your student?
  • Should you read the story together?
  • Can your student read alone, with support?
  • The student reads independently aloud
  • The student reads silently
  1. What to do if your student gets stuck

If your student gets stuck on a word, you may like to try some of the following strategies.

  • Look for picture clues, this can often prompt the student
  • Try reading on. Reading on provides some context, and this can prompt the reader to guess the word
  • Sounding out is another strategy. Ask your student to look at the first / last letter. You may also ask “Can you see any smaller words in the big one?” or “Can you break the word into chunks?”
  • If there is no success, or if your student is highly anxious simply tell your student the word
  • Or ignore the word and read on to maintain fluency and meaning

When your student makes an error and the meaning is not lost, ignore it – it’s what good readers do all the time. The aim is to support and encourage your student to enjoy reading and read regularly – practice really does make perfect!

If your student makes an error and the meaning is lost, respond at the end of the sentence. Firstly wait and give your student time, as it is better if they correct themselves. However, if they don’t self-correct say:

“Does that sound right?”

“Does that make sense?”

“Does the word you said look like that?”

Remember to praise your student’s successes and their attempts.\

  1. Understanding the story

After reading the story, you and your student may now confirm or reject the initial predictions that were made. Then you can move on to the directing questions, to check for comprehension and meaning.

Discuss the directing question:

What do you think about the way Kate behaves towards Tom?

How would you react if you were Kate’s mum?

Ask for your student’s verbal opinion, and then ask them to justify this opinion from the story.

Discuss and define the term “gobsmacked”. The Collins Cobuild dictionary says “If you say you are gobsmacked by something, you are emphasising how amazed and surprised you are by it.”

  1. How to use the exercises and activities
  • These exercises and activities are a mixture of literal and inferential comprehension, so ensure that you choose a mixture of the two.
  • Choose the exercises that suit the ability of your student, or better still, involve your student as they will choose appropriate levels and interests, OR
  • You may like to begin with one that you know your student will enjoy and do well at, just to build their confidence.
  • Or a more challenging exercise for your student may be selected and extra support can be offered.
  • Exercises can also be printed off and given for homework.
  • Don’t attempt every exercise for each of the books, as this will bore your student!

“Home Improvement” Crossword solution  

 Across – 2. house  4. beer  6. ladder 7. pasta  9. wedding-album

Down – 1. Kate  2. housewarming  3. garden  5. barbeque  8. Lili