The Global Reading Method

In recent decades, teachers have started to implement the new way of teaching children how to read using the analytical, so-called “global” method. The Global Reading Method could be seen both as an alternative approach to the traditional teaching methods of reading comprehension skills and as a first step in teaching literacy. Some learning centres even recommend using the new method of teaching kids to read from an early age.

What is the Global Reading Method?

It relies upon flashcards, basically combining letters with pictures. The Global Reading Method became popular after Glenn Doman, the father of the method, suggested that children are taught to read using what he called the Global Reading Method.

The Global Reading Method is also a popular way of teaching children with dyslexia and various developmental disorders who experience certain difficulties in learning reading.

See related article: 7 Key Reading Tips From a Child Psychologist on How to Teach Your Child to Read at Any Age

What is the Difference Between the Global Reading Method and Traditional Methods of Learning to Read?

The Global Reading Method includes the presentation of the whole word to children and relies on his or her visual perception and the ability to remember visual information. Thus, the child does not read the word letter by letter, but remembers it as a picture, which consists of letters. However, unlike the ordinary picture which depicts a particular object, it denotes a generalised idea about the object or event, i.e. has a certain meaning.

When learning to read with the traditional analytical and synthetic method, the child must first learn the letters, then the sequential reading, and finally the full sentence reading. Learning the analytical reading is often difficult because it involves both visual perception and analytical and synthetic thinking.

It is believed that a child’s ability to memorise and use global words and sentences facilitates the further transition to analytical reading.

How to Learn to Read with the Global Reading Method?

Teaching reading using this method is as follows:

  • Make “Glenn Doman Flashcards”. These should be in a bright colour and with large-print font. You can even make them at home. Each set should follow a certain theme, such as fruits or kitchen items.
  • Children are shown these flash cards. Demonstration of cards takes place at a rather fast pace and at the same rhythm. It is assumed that the child will absorb information at the subconscious level.
  • Repeat on a regular basis, generally thrice per day for a week and a half. Don’t explain each letter or sound as you go along, in contrast to the Standard Reading Method which relies upon first learning the alphabet as part of English comprehension. Would you like more flash cards and free resources to use at home? Visit our Free Resources page now!

The demonstrative process itself involves the display of an average of 10 cards of one theme. Thematic sets of pictures are shown and named. It is recommended to show the same pictures three times a day for 10 days. Then you can add new elements and expand the themes of pictures.

An important principle of global reading is not to force, but to arouse the interest of the child.

Using Global Reading in Teaching Children with Developmental Disabilities

The method of Global Reading gained special popularity in correctional pedagogics, in work with “special” children or children with special needs. Speech and verbal cognitive mental processes of children with developmental disorders (intellectual, speech, autistic) are always more disturbed that figurative processes and visual memory, which are usually better developed.

When using the global method while learning reading, children with developmental disabilities perceive the information as a whole, see it as a picture or a photo. Sound accompaniment helps to form an additional link between the visual and auditory images of the word, so the process of memorisation is more productive. Use of accompanying pictures, especially during initial stages, helps to establish the associations and to create semantic relations.

The Global Reading Method allows children to develop impressive speech and thinking before mastering the pronunciation skills necessary as part of English comprehension. In addition, global reading develops visual attention and memory. The most children with developmental disabilities also have speech development delays, so the elaboration of the impressive speech allows them to enhance the mechanism of speech development and stimulate the child’s active speech formation.

See related article: Singing as a Learning Tool for Speech Development

4 Fun Reading Tasks and Games for Teaching Global Reading with Glenn Doman Flash Cards

Global reading is not limited to the demonstration and naming of the words-pictures. You can vary the tasks and organise them in a playful way to teach your child reading comprehension skills. Here are some examples.

1. “Pick a pair” game: search for the similar image with the word among the set of different cards. The first level of complexity involves the use of images with captions. The child learns to match similar words. Then captions or drawings in the album are covered and the child is required to remember the required caption on the card and put it to the picture. The closed word is opened and compared to the selected caption.

2. “Match a word with the picture” game: After learning a specific theme set a child is given separately the pictures from this lexical theme and the captions to them. The adult takes two cards with words and offers to find the matching images. Words should not be similar in writing to each other.

After learning the two cards, gradually new cards should be added. The order of introduction of new lexical topics is random and depends on the age and interests of the child.

3. Task “Show me” is dedicated to developing an understanding of the instructions and should be given to the older children. Words should be used without the captions related to them. Sentences of 2-3 words should be made with different nouns and the same verb.

The theme of the sentences may be different. The child is invited to perform the action, for example: “Show me your mouth”, “Show a square”, “Show a small ball”, “Go to the window”, “Take a pen”, “Give me a red ball”, “Give me a big car”, etc.). When showing the cards, draw the child’s attention to the different spelling of the second/third words in the sentences.

4. Exercise “Read the sentence”. The child is offered several sentences that are similar to the picture or series of pictures on which one person performs different actions: the girl draws (plays, washes, sleeps), the dog sleeps (eats, plays, runs), etc.

Please, remember that learning to read with the Global Reading Method must be based on words that are well known to the child. You need to start with those that are associated with the world surrounding the child.

Do not complicate the task until the child is able to match the object and its image and can easily find a pair of objects or pictures.

If traditional reading is easy for the child, the Global Method will stimulate the kid’s interest in the reading process. However, if the child has developmental problems that make it difficult to master sequential reading, and therefore slow the development of reading comprehension skills, then the global method can be the only one for your child that can teach him or her to read.

And remember: do not overdo it! Both global and traditional reading method should be taught in an entertaining way and be really interesting for the child!

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