"Reading Comprehension"

Someone on the Always Learning list had written "She is finally only now comprehending what she is reading..."

I responded:

This phrase always stops me in my tracks.

If someone is reading (or says she's reading, or others say she's reading, or school claims she's reading) but she's not "comprehending what she reads" then HOW on earth, in any small way, did anyone think to claim it was "reading"?

That's what.
Damned phonics.

I can read French and Spanish. I could probably read German, badly. Of French I would glean a bit. Of Spanish I'd know very, very vaguely what I was reading about but wouldn't be able to translate it.

Of German I wouldn't know a damned thing.

Would I really be reading?
If I just run my eyes across it and make out what sounds I can, would that be reading?
If I read aloud (which is what I was first thinking two paragraphs up), would I really be reading?
If I sound out, according to phonetic rules, Spanish, but I don't understand enough Spanish to comprehend it (unless it's really very basic and about grocery stores or cars or something lyrical about beso or corazon)... I don't think I'm reading squat.

Reading HAS to have comprehension.


Outside reading: How do teachers view reading comprehension? http://www.literacy.uconn.edu/compre.htm
(Caution: Reading too much of that at once could cause deep frustration)
Related pages in the reading section of this site: Speed Reading and thoughts on Real Reading.

Reading index page