Learning new abstract symbols is hard

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John Walker from Sounds~Write has a neat, quick presentation which really clarifies how tricky it is to learn new abstract symbols, such as letters which represent sounds.

As literate adults, we recognise letters rapidly and automatically. We learnt them as young children, so we can’t remember a time when they were just meaningless squiggles on a page.

However, when we are asked to learn new symbols ourselves, we quickly realise it’s difficult and takes time and practice. If we’re given too much to learn at once, or have to learn a new activity at the same time as the new content, we’re more likely to struggle and fail.

When John gave his nifty presentation at the recent Sounds~Write training in Melbourne, I filmed it on my trusty iPad, so it’s not cinematic quality, but gives you the idea. It’s six-and-a-half minutes long, and if at first it appears blurry, go to the little wheel icon at the bottom right of the video window and increase the number, e.g. to 360p or 480p:

improving YouTube quality

You may need to check a few emails or make yourself a cup of tea while the higher-resolution version loads.

The new symbols John is teaching (on the yellow post-it notes) are a circle, a square, a triangle, and later he adds an asterisk. John has kindly given me permission to share the video with you. Here it is.