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00:11 Tiffany Hogan: Welcome to See Hear Speak Podcast Episode 33. In this Episode I speak with Julie Wolter about morphology and morphological awareness.
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00:56 TH: Welcome to SeeHearSpeak, Episode 33. In this episode, I speak with Julie Wolter. And I will have Julie start by introducing herself.
01:06 Julie Wolter: Well, thank you for having me, Tiffany. As always, it's such a pleasure to be here and to be part of this important podcast, that I am excited to be a part of because it really is reaching out to our clinicians and teachers in the field who are doing such important work. And so it's certainly a passion of mine. I am currently, I serve as Chair, and I'm a Professor, at University of Montana for our School of Speech, Language, Hearing, and Occupational Sciences. But as you know, my passion is really in the area of research and clinical assessment, intervention, and screening, specifically for individuals and children who are diagnosed with developmental language disorder, as well as those who have language literacy deficits such as dyslexia. And so, really that's where my background is. And I served as a speech-language pathologist before going back to school to become a researcher and a professor. And that really is where my passion lies.
02:10 TH: Fantastic. Well, I know you've been on the podcast before. We talked about Crucial Conversations. And listeners who haven't heard that, I encourage you to take a listen. I'm not sure exactly what episode it was, but it's in the teens. And now we're here in Episode 33, and I wanted to talk to you more about your content area of research around morphology and morphological awareness. To get us started, can you give us some definitions of morphology and morphological awareness?
02:37 JW: Yes, certainly. So, those of us who are speech-language pathologists, we talk a lot about morphemes in development from a spoken language perspective. So, morphemes are the smallest linguistic unit of meaning. And when young toddlers are developing, they develop their first words which are often base words. Any word that has meaning such as car, is a word, but when you add then another, what we consider to be bound morphemes that add more meaning to it, such as the plural -s to make car cars, that's then changing meaning with a smallest linguistic unit of meaning; in that case, the bound morpheme a plural -s.
03:24 JW: And so in terms of our definitions, we... In terms of development and definitions, I should say, young children develop inflectional morphology first, and inflectional morphology refers to any kind of morpheme that changes *** in general, that's a good way to define it. And derivational morphology is a different type of morphological development, which has more to do with changing the class of a word. So, you adding the -er bound morpheme to the rich word or base word of teach, changes the word teach which is a verb to the word class of a noun, which is teacher. So that's derivational morphology. And that develops in children throughout one's lifetime. That we continue to add to that. But we certainly see that developing a little bit later in... And then there are more common derivations such as -er, or -ly that we see in early development. But that's, again, in a nutshell, the way to define morphology.
04:39 TH: So inflectional morphology is a restricted set of morphological endings associated with the language. And it's developed early and, as you said, it starts really early but it's typically mastered around kindergarten. Whereas, derivational morphology changes the word class, and it develops throughout the lifetime.
05:01 JW: That's correct. Yeah, that's a good way to think about it. And, in fact, when we say kindergarten, that's probably has more also to do with, even we think about it from a literacy standpoint, in terms of it also turns into what we consider morphological awareness. So I think we can talk a little bit about that as well. So, we do think about development of spoken morphology, which is much more implicit, that children are mastering by kindergarten. You do see them accurately, for the most part, citing tense and plurality possession in their spoken language. But then they begin to also develop this more meta-linguistic awareness of how morphology can be changed, just as we think of, again, the analogy for your listeners are likely very familiar with phonological awareness; so the awareness to manipulate and think about sounds as units that are a part of language, you can separate yourself from that language. Well, it's the same thing with morphemes that with that meta-linguistic awareness, which we consider as morphological awareness, is when children can begin to manipulate and think about units of meaning in a more explicit way. And that's really developing around kindergarten as well.
06:26 TH: Also, on Twitter, Mark Anderson asked a question I thought was really pertinent to our discussion, and he said I could read it on the podcast. It's related right to this, I think. So he asked, "Something I'm struggling to understand: Morphemes are the smallest unit of meaning in a language. So how are they different in substance than vocabulary semantics, and how we acquire an understanding of them?" He followed up and said, "I get the definition difference between morpheme and a word, a word is always standalone. But functionally, is the manner in which we learn them substantively different than words?" And I would also add, how does morphological awareness and vocabulary relate? How are they the same and different? How do they relate to reading?
07:09 JW: Yeah, that's a really good question and I do think researchers such as myself are actually delving into this very topic of how do children learn morphology, and we're still learning more about this. But one of the things that I think is pertinent to this conversation, and specifically even from an intervention perspective, is that just as noted, the base word, you learn a base word and you learn a word in your lexicon that is a semantics kind of piece... And in fact, by the way, young children, they sometimes don't differentiate... They have very general meanings of things, and as they learn and develop, they fine tune that a little bit more, and maybe even develop more awareness of morphological structures.
07:59 JW: But with that being said, I think the intervention part that's important to think about is that when children learn words in a very explicit way... Because we know vocabulary is so important and core to children's literacy and language development, of course, in school age, young school age, for example. We know that children can learn up to around, you know, 10 words in this very explicit manner in a week, and you think about... That's important, but there are some limitations to that, because you think of how large lexicons are; how many thousands of words children learn to be able to be fluent and communicators, or I should say, effective communicators.
08:41 JW: With morphology and morphological awareness in particular, as children begin to *** meaning units to infer and produce new meanings, that actually becomes a strategic approach to, yes, semantic meaning, but it's a different way to tackle word learning. So an example of this would be, a child knows the word piglet as a little pig, and then they encounter a new word that they've never read or heard before, for example, owlet; they can infer, if they know what the base word owl is and they know what piglet is, then they can infer, oh, this means little owl. And that's really a morphological strategy to infer meaning in new words. And in that case, the explicit teaching of owlet was never given, but the child can infer a new word using a strategic approach. And so I think that's an important distinctive piece about vocabulary and morphological awareness, very related, but one's more of a strategic way of processing versus the others as just learning a word for a word's sake. Does that make sense?
09:58 TH: Yeah, that makes total sense. I think that really does. And I also think it ties nicely to thinking about how morphology relates to the two primary components we know are involved in comprehension, being decoding, and then the language comprehension piece. So how does morphology tie to both of those?
10:16 JW: Yes, so well, this is something I really love about morphological awareness, that... And it's something that's really drawn me as a researcher. As you know, Tiffany, we work on this research together, that I really am interested as a researcher in multiple linguistic processing across orthography, the letters, phonology sounds, but also now, morphology in terms of meaning, that all three of those areas of language as well as semantics, are all very important for language and ultimately literacy success. But morphology is really unique and interesting, and it's something that I find really important. I think... This is based on some of the terminology by Kirby and Pete Bowers who talk about morphology as a binding agent. And I really like that terminology, because morphology is the meaning piece. And it helps with you thinking about those breakdowns of orthography, letters and sounds, when it's linked to meaning it provides another powerful component for children to create knowledge.
11:27 JW: And so what I mean by that, so with literacy, in terms of decoding, it's important... Think about something as simple as... An example of where there are morphological... Pardon me, so morphological units, where they are... Come together. So, for example, an -ive. This is an orthography spelling. But how do we pronounce it in a decoding unit when we decode, is it -iv or is it -ive? In the word contrive, the E makes the I say its name; it's a long vowel, it's contrive. That's because the -ive does not have any morphological meaning in that word, it's just part of the base word. Whereas in the word detective, all of a sudden, you have a very different pronunciation, and the reason you know that, is because it's a morphological unit there, and it's really, in that case, indicating that it's a type of person who detects.
12:32 JW: And so this is one clue in reading. Another example of that would be the -sh. Thinking about that orthography, and then the phonology, how do we produce it? Well, it's the morphology that gives us the clue, pardon me, how to pronounce it. It's the morphology that provides the clue as to how to pronounce. So for example, in the word "misheard", it's the unit of the end of the first morpheme of 'mis-' to the second morpheme of 'heard'. It's because that there is... That those are two morphemes that we separate the S and the H. But in the word fish, you're only going to pronounce it in what we know is the SH sound, because it has nothing to do with morphology and everything to do with an orthographic rule.
13:21 JW: And so these are somewhat of implicit cues that we might not necessarily be aware of when we're reading. I don't know if children are always aware of this, but it does help implicitly to provide some clues as to how do we decode unknown words, or pardon me, words while we're reading, and sometimes unknown words. When we start to figure out, "Oh, are there two morphemes in it," it allows us to provide some strategy to figuring how we pronounce a word when reading. And then going forward with comprehension, you brought that up, this idea that then how is morphological awareness or morphology related to comprehension? Well, we know that vocabulary is so important to comprehending what is read. And just as I noted, that piglet to owlet analogy of children being able to infer unknown words based on morphological strategy, that also can help in reading comprehension, as they can infer some vocabulary meaning to make sense of a reading passage.
14:26 TH: That's fantastic, and it makes a lot of sense to me of how it's such an important binding agent, as you said, for both decoding words and thinking about how words connect with meaning, but also the comprehension aspect, it makes a lot of sense too. And how is morphological abilities... How is that typically assessed in these young children? I remember you telling me about a spelling task, for instance, that seemed really interesting, to try to get at are kids really understanding morphology.
14:56 JW: Yeah, so this is interesting, because at this time, there are very few standardized measures of morphological awareness on the market. Now there are some tasks that maybe we're familiar with, those who are in the reading or literacy world, or speech language pathology world, there are some morphological spoken tasks for us to get at specifically, typically whether a child has inflectional morphology of plurality, tense, and possession. There are fewer tasks getting at that derivational component, just as a note from a spoken perspective. And then if you think about truly from a morphological awareness perspective, which really gets at the meta-linguistics, which we are finding and the research is really proving to be very closely related to children's literacy success, even early on, we have fewer measures available to us.
15:58 JW: Right now, they're mostly researcher-developed measures. For example, one very seminal researcher in the field is Joanne Carlisle, who's been studying this for many, many years, and she has a task which is very classic, I refer to it as the farm farmer task, where you actually give a base word and then you ask children to complete the sentence. "So farm, my uncle is a... " And you ask... You're expecting the child to come up with farmer. And so those tasks... And there are some published out there, and I will certainly send some references that you might be able to post on this podcast, that there appendices and such that allow for... That researchers have done a little bit of the work to provide multiple targets, both inflectional and derivational. So something like lemon, I'm going to make some lemonade. Those are more derivational. So, we can look at those a little bit more closely in assessment.
16:56 JW: One other piece that's important from an assessment perspective, in terms of, one, finding out do children have a mastered use of ability to have inflectional morphology versus, pardon me, derivational? But another thing that's actually important in an assessment is to think about and to identify whether children have an awareness of morphology relationships between words, be they more transparent or what we call opaque in the research field. And so what we know in terms of development that children typically understand relationships, or develop earlier in the early school years a transparent relationship, or pardon me, understand the transparent relationship where there is no sound or spelling shift between the base word and the morphologically complex form.
17:51 JW: So for example, swim and swimming, children readily hear and even can see the word swim in swimming, and thus know that swimming is related to the act of swim. To swim is actually related to swimming. It's a little bit more tough when there's opaque relationship. So for example, when the sound and/or spelling shifts. So for example, sign to signature. That one is a little bit... The word sign is retained. Orthography, the spelling, is retained in the derived form, but not necessarily the sound, it changed. So sometimes students aren't necessarily keying into that sign has anything to do with signature. Or even think about five to fifth, that's really opaque.
18:46 JW: And so those are harder for children to develop, but we still expect that by third grade, for example, they're cueing into these opaque forms. And so in terms of developmentally, some of these researcher-developed assessments, when giving an assessment, it's important to have enough target forms that you can see whether or not they're having challenges on inflectional versus derivational, and/or if those challenges are more so in transparent versus opaque forms.
19:18 JW: So that's a good way to think about it in a real general way. Just a note though, there are researchers, one I'm very familiar with Dr. Kenn Apel, who actually is finishing up a grant out there. I shouldn't say I think I know. I'm consulting on that. A little bit with him is that that is the goal of that grant is to develop a standardized measure for morphological awareness. So it's coming. It's just not here yet. But right now we're using researcher-developed types of forms to get at this knowledge.
19:54 TH: What are some of the measures? And particularly you mentioned, the classic Carlisle measure, but what are some of the ways you can measure morphology in a spelling task. And also you've done some work in dynamic measurement of morphological awareness? I'd love to hear about that too.
20:10 JW: Yes. So, there are some different ways that we can get at this and one of the... A lot of researchers have come up with the idea that really this is a multi-content, pardon me, a multifactorial type of model of morphological awareness in that not any one task is completely getting at one type of knowledge. So when I just gave you that example of a generation where you gave a word, a base word, and then a child generates the inflected or derived form, that's one way to assess that you're right. But other ways we can get at it specifically even thinking about our children with phonological or expressive language disorders, we have to think of other ways to assess this.
20:56 JW: So we might do something really along the lines of even providing spelling tasks. That's one way to get this, at this is where one of my research studies looks at, do children differentially think about mars versus bars? One's a two morpheme word, one's a one morpheme word, do they spell those words differently? And in fact, indeed, we do find that children are more likely to mark the R in bars versus Mars because they're actually marking the base word in that. So there are some clever ways like that with researchers that are coming up with some forms like that.
21:44 JW: In terms of dynamic assessment, you're correct. That is one of the most recent articles that just came out in our language speech hearing services in the school's forum, which is specifically on morphological awareness, intervention, and assessment practices in the with school-aged children. That of my dynamic assessment with my colleagues, former doc students, Francis Gibson, and Tim Slocum, we developed a measure for first-grade students and we were thinking about some of those relationships where we asked children to actually define words. But then when they, for example, if you ask them for like the farm, my uncle is a farmer, when they don't come up with that answer, how do you scaffold it for them?
22:33 JW: And so some of those, that's where the dynamic assessment comes in, where then we actually would help to point out that there are two morphemes. And even through phonological cues, we might be able to give a little bit of a cue of, "Oh, look. There's an ending here that you need to come up with." And by the way, those kinds of dynamic assessments just like in phonological awareness, and other measures that we've looked at, over the years with dynamic assessment, help us to determine when and if there are some scaffolds that we can use in treatment for children to then learn this important skill that we know to be important to language and literacy success.
23:14 TH: So that leads me... That's a nice transition to think about treatment. So, we've talked about what is the definition, how does it relate to word reading and comprehension, what are some of the ways it's assessed, what do we know about intervention around morphological awareness?
23:33 JW: Yeah. So, we are learning more and more. And again, this is a topic and an area that is gaining increasing focus and awareness. And in fact, if people are interested with our latest issue of LSHSS that I have had the honor of co-editing with my two colleagues here at University of Montana, Dr. Ashley Meaux and Dr. Ginger Collins. And Dr. Ashley Meaux took the lead on that along with myself, that there are several articles in there that are addressing using morphological awareness as part of a multi-linguistic intervention approach. And that's a term that I use and have used in my research over the years. But recently, for example, Louisa Moats refers to it as a structured literacy approach. I think that's another term that might be familiar to your listeners.
24:25 JW: But the essential pieces that morphology, just as we mentioned earlier how morphological awareness cannot be necessarily separated from the sounds and letters as well as meaning. It's the binding agent. So by adding morphological awareness to our intervention approaches where we do, for example, word sorts, thinking about spelling and sounds. In fact, maybe your listeners are already familiar with, using spelling word sorts of, for example, a common type of protocol or curriculum out there is Words Their Way. Sorry, not a protocol but a book out there that you could use, would be where you use just thinking about word analysis. And so one of the things that you can do with that is actually set up a situation where it's more implicit learning... Or pardon me, not implicit. Sorry. Inquiry-based learning, where you provide a situation where you have patterns of words that the only difference in them is between, perhaps maybe their sound, but they're all spelled the same because the morphology is the same.
25:39 JW: So let me give a very explicit example of this. So the word "popped" has the "t" sound at the end cause it has an -ed versus wagged with the "d" sound and it's still spelled -ed versus heated, where there's an "ed" sound. The reason for that is because there are the ending letters of the base words are what dictate how we pronounce this -ed, but the -ed is always spelled the same because it has everything to do with the meaning of past tense. And this is a really important concept that kids... This meaning, binding agents, helps them to understand why, that they don't sell popped P-O-P-T, which by the way, the other thing in popped is there's a double letter, the double p. And the doubling of letters is also dictated by the fact that there's an adding of a morpheme. And so I think the key here is that what we're finding with research is that when we can present these word-study situations, and in this case, what I would do is present many words.
26:50 JW: In Words Their Way, they give lots of word lists that allow you to then help children to self-discover what are the rules, where they see multiple words with the double-P at the end, for example, where always, the -ed says "t". Then they start to go oh I see a pattern here. It's not just us telling us them the rule, they're self-inferring it and are able to then sort according to words. I do it in a fun way of one of the research studies that I conducted a few years back with children with learning disabilities, specifically those at risk or diagnosed with dyslexia, we found that helping them to do these type of word sort activities and then doing other games with it, cause I think we as SLPs are good at creating Jeopardy or all those kind of things. These are with third graders. But then you can provide opportunities for them to spell and write words using their new rules. But the idea here is that they self-discovered the rules at first. And in that case, we framed it in the fact that they were detectives and trying to code-break at any given time when they had all sorts of new sorts, word sorts to then discover these rules.
27:59 TH: It does seem...
28:00 JW: I know that was a long answer. But I think it helps just, again, to exemplify what are some of these pieces that we are finding to be very effective tools to help children to learn morphology in an explicit way, where they learn it as a strategy, as to how to, again, use meaning in that case for spelling, and then the inverse is also to then do generation where you actually can morph words. And that's really fun too, to come up with new meanings of words based on meaning alone. And I've certainly done that with older students too, well, students of all ages.
28:38 TH: You are really good at that, actually. And I know some of your presentations, you do that. And I'm putting you on the spot. Can you think of one you've done that has been one of your favorites, cause you do it all the time.
28:48 JW: Oh, morphing new words. Well, of course, I think those of us who are word nerds, which I certainly am, and you can't be a person who loves morphology that wouldn't love the new meanings. And you're right, you are putting me on the spot, which is fine. But I don't know if I can come up with a clever one, but I do think...
29:07 TH: Well, but you've done them in the past? Can you think of one you've done in the past?
29:08 JW: You know what? I can tell you a really funny example from a student. One of my students who, again, I work with children specifically who struggle in this area, but I love it when they see the value and all of a sudden it clicks for them. Laura Green, my colleague, who does a lot of work in this area, she calls it the power of the word is the morpheme. And so one of my students that we'd like to... Usually I'll give them, again, depending on the structure, how much structure or support they need. I'll often give them base words or multiple prefixes and suffixes, and then we come up with all sorts of new words. One exercise I often do is... When kids were really into Harry Potter, we developed new words for candies. Because think about that candy store in Harry Potter where you know what a Flying Whizz-bot means.
29:59 JW: I think JK Rowling's so great with her language because she has these descriptive words and she uses morphology beautifully that you can see and picture something even if you never heard that word before. So, we've done some of those things. Well, I will just say one of the examples of... I forget how, but we came up with lots of different base words, lots of different suffixes. And one of my students came up with said and had to define what "humanitarian" meant. And again, you can imagine I guess my laugh of this is that it was, what do you think? To eat humans.
30:39 TH: What was it?
30:40 JW: To eat humans.
30:41 TH: Oh, to eat humans.
30:41 JW: Because... And this is where I love that the individuals come up with it will... In this case, it's a real word. But how did they come up with it? Well, because they know vegetarian. And so this is the perfect example of an analogy that I love where then you see the thought process behind it. So certainly, again, you're right. I make big up words all the time. I don't have a good one on the spot. But I think that's a really good example of really smart thinking and really going, "Okay, wait a minute, why isn't humanitarian eating humans?" Okay. I don't know if that's a good example or not. I hope your listeners at home are okay with that one.
31:21 TH: That's awesome. No, that's perfect. That's a perfect example. That's exactly what I was thinking. But I think the examples are absolutely helpful. Now, if someone's listening, an educator SLP and they say, "I need to do morphological awareness and incorporate that more into my treatment or my classroom instruction," and they're trying to convince an administrator. What could they point to in, for instance, policy like the Common Core, or do you have some example, IEP goals they could bring forward?
31:50 JW: Yeah, so that's a really good point, I do think, and especially as you get into school age, morphological awareness in this kind of intervention really lends itself to the Common Core, and I think that we are not always... You may or may not be aware of it as, again, as a literacy coach, educator, speech language pathologist, but it is very across the common core, including Science, Math, as well as then very explicit, which you're probably aware of, the language goals that actually talk about using Latin and Greek roots. And so that there are some explicit types of common core objectives that actually link this morphologically, the morphological strategy directly to it. But if you think about what we're being required to do in terms of, for example, science and using the vocabulary, that's where morphological awareness is going to come in, because again, getting back to your listeners, comment about what's the difference between vocabulary and morphological awareness, think about science and all the new words that we're being asked to learn in our textbooks. And here is I think a really important thing to note, according to England, about 90% of all unknown new words once you hit third grade are morphologically complex.
33:22 TH: Wow.
33:22 JW: When you think about how we're encountering text, so how powerful is it that we provide children to think about a study or probably a strategy, to then be able to study these new words, because think about things like... I am trying to think of a good science unit, but... Gosh, now I'm not... See I should have had my examples ready here, but just most of our new scientific words are of a morphologically complex form and so it really helps kids to start to infer the meanings, in those reading to learn types of units that we know are integrated into the common core. So think about dehydration. Okay, there's a good example of one. There is a multiple morphemic word that a child, that's part of what they're supposed to learn in terms of their core tier two words, again, that's another vocabulary term that's used in the field by Beck and McKeon but those words are typically morphologically complex. And that's really important for their future learning as well, right?
34:40 TH: Absolutely, yes. I was trying to think about like for instance even just the corona virus.
34:47 JW: Yes.
34:48 TH: Like what does that stand for? And It looks like the corona is more like it represented the Greek of a crown, it's kind of like the look of it.
34:57 JW: Yes.
34:58 TH: Of course, virus, we know what that is, and so... Yeah, yeah.
35:02 JW: Yeah, it does.
35:03 TH: Right, it really applies in so many everyday life skills in terms of reading and comprehension, it's really powerful. What are some example goals you could have in your instruction or if you had a IEP, what are some example goals related to...
35:21 JW: Yes.
35:22 TH: I know you've written about this, so I just wanted to highlight some of them in case.
35:26 JW: That is exactly it. You're right, I have presented on this in other areas, and certainly, again, I will send you along some references that I've written with fellow colleagues where we actually give example, core curricular goals and then help to exemplify what that treatment would look like, what the assessment would be. But certainly, for example, and again, I don't have it right in front of me, but second grade, sixth grade, I think there are goals about using Word strategies to decode. I think that's one. And again, I gave the example earlier of just like the use of SH for misheard versus fishing. How do we use that to our advantage from even just a decoding perspective. So, I think decoding there are goals in there. And usually I think the other piece, which is not necessarily related to morphological awareness, but certainly related to what I see as an important piece of any goal writing is thinking about context. And so typically when I write a goal in an IEP for example, I would be writing that so and so will be able to use the strategy of morphological inference to decode unknown words in these context of reading a passage.
37:01 JW: And so I'm always contextualizing when and how that child is using this new language strategy, usually in a very functional applied context, that's going to help them the most in their education, but then also... I'm referring to it as a strategy. I think one thing that I have noticed when I have presented on this across the country, some people will say, well, for example, I talk about spelling as a really important way to address... I have given some examples of word sorts where children are using spelling, they spell an -ed based on meaning. Well some for example, speech language pathologists would say, "Well, I don't work on spelling" or "My district doesn't allow me to work on spelling," and that's where I would say, "Well, you're really not working on spelling. You're really working on developing a foundational language skill or strategy, using spelling as the tool, or using reading as the tool."
37:59 JW: And so I think that's the other key to that is when writing those goals, thinking about what is really the mission of the goal. And in that case, it's learning the morphological awareness strategy of inferencing meaning or using meaning to direct orthographic patterns. And I think that's where I help people to think about... And I can give some really good examples again if people are interested, some follow up references for people to see some really explicit examples across grades. But that would be my big key in terms of when you are writing goals to think about that mission, in this case, the language foundation of it.
38:42 TH: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. It does strike me as we're speaking here that teachers really need to have, or anyone really doing morphological, doesn't have to be teachers, it could be anyone special educators, SLPs, they have to have a lot of knowledge about inflectional and derivational morphology to do this. Do you have some ideas of how teachers can get that knowledge? I'll give you some... Give you room to answer that. And then I have some thoughts too.
39:10 JW: Well, I'm hoping you do have some thoughts. I certainly see that the science of reading what we know to be the foundations. And of course, Tiffany, you and I, we always are... You and I are devoted to thinking about this, the scientific premise. And in this case, we can even think about some of the models for literacy development where really language is the foundation of how we comprehend but also in terms of decoding. And so I would agree with that, that then what we're looking at is that then intervention practices and those, pardon me, those training practices that are related to that science of reading are going to be really important. And so there are some places out there.
40:01 JW: I will say sometimes there are some theoretical debates in the field. I think you've certainly highlighted this on your program, that we're sometimes focused not as much on these underlying language foundations. And that is really important. That is the science of reading. So yeah, I do have... I will say, I have some publications out there to get this out. I'll certainly present on this. There are some very well-known researchers with the Reading League, for example, I think is a really good resource that's really promoting this. But we need to get more out there. I will say morphological awareness is an important piece that's just becoming more known. I think it's one of the last linguistic pieces to get its highlight in the sun.
40:51 TH: Well, I think you said too, you're a proud word nerd and I think that educators teaching reading can have a similar, proud kind of, "Hey, I'm the word nerd," and learn all about morphology and just really tend to that more as on the side cause I don't know that they've always gotten it in teacher education programs. And getting it through formal training, like you said, through the science of reading or through the Reading League, but also just even taking a special interest in it through articles online and fun books, which we can get some of those resources. We will get all the resources we talked about on the podcast on the website in a couple weeks from the release of the podcast, to give people some resources if they're interested.
41:36 TH: I've presented mostly within the work I do in language repair in children. With you, a lot of that work Julie is happening with you. I talk a lot about the simple view of reading. And I definitely have people ask me, "Where does morphological awareness fit in this?" And I think this conversation has helped me to think even more about where it fits because it really fits in both. And I love the concept of the binding, that it really binds it all together. And it's just so critically important. And sometimes, I think that the morphological aspect can be lost with the focus on word reading and comprehension and vocabulary, but it tends to be almost lost because it is so critically important. It's the sauce that's putting it all together. But that's easy to, unfortunately, not highlight that as much. So, I'm excited to talk to you about it and get this information out there and just showcase the special issue and all the resources you've discussed.
42:30 JW: Well, and with that, I will just say one other part that I think is really important is this idea because you and I are so focused on our children with DLD, who also may or may not go on to have dyslexia. And we know that 50% according to your important research over the years that we know 50% of kids with DLD may not go on to have dyslexia, but they go on maybe to have instead this reading comprehension deficit. And so it's really interesting, I will just say morphological awareness, along with orthography in other key areas that, again, you and I are even studying together. This might be a key component that might help facilitate, and I think we're learning more. And I certainly will say that's part of my research agenda. But we are finding that children even who have some challenges in this area, that this meaning component, is actually helpful to them to be able to make some links between phonology and letters where we know for example, they might have a phonological deficit that these other areas and including meaning, this morphological binding agent, might actually help them to process.
43:45 JW: And actually it's also, I think, very helpful not just from just in general children within the *** and certainly morphological one is important from a decoding, single word level as well as comprehension. We also see it being very important for children with developmental language disorders and specifically reading deficits. And some of our actual research is showing that the children who make the most gains given information in or premier instruction in morphologic awareness are those kids with these disabilities. So that's I think also a really important and key component that gets me really excited about the research.
44:25 TH: Oh, I think that's great, thank you for making that important point because it's really critical, especially many of our listeners are working with children who have learning disabilities or developmental language disorders. So I'm being mindful of time, and I want to make sure I ask you the last two questions I always ask every guest, I've asked you this before, but now I assume it's been a year since we recorded it, so you might have different answers, maybe you won't. The first question is, what is your favorite book for childhood... From childhood or now?
44:56 JW: Oh, that's really funny. And you're right, you asked me this last time, and I probably thought, "What is it?" Oh! My gosh, I should have been prepared for this, and now what did I say last time? Well, I can tell you some books that I'm reading with my sons, I have a 13-year-old and a nine-year-old, and so certainly what I'm reading with my sons of right now, from, you said from childhood though...
45:20 TH: Or it could be now too or now.
45:22 JW: Yeah, I'll tell you a series that I'm reading right now with my sons, both of... Everyone enjoys it, is the False Prince. It's a scholastic series, and it's really great for boys... Well, for kids in general, doesn't matter gender, but my boys love it, and it's me, it seems a little bit in the genre of Harry Potter. And that you have this hero of a young kid, but there's a lot of mystery and intrigue. And there's three books to it, and there are really good audio books with a really good narrator. And so it's a really good listen in the car as well, which I've been doing a lot or at home. If you're just wanting to lay on the couch with your kids, which is my favorite thing to do is listen to an audio book, if they tolerate that.
46:10 TH: I think that, that sounds fantastic. I've started doing more audible books with my five-year-old so that... I love it, I'm always looking for more. So that's fantastic.
46:19 JW: Yes. Yeah.
46:20 TH: Well, the next question, the last question I ask is, what are you working on now that you're most excited about? What's getting you excited right now?
46:28 JW: Yeah, so thank you. I think, given some of the research you and I've been doing, Tiffany, and certainly in our NIH grant, again, you tweeted out that I am so proud also of the recent 240 hours, in the time of COVID that we're going in and we're doing Zoom research and again, that's a testament to the amazing team, I'll give a shout out to our orthographic, our learning group, our Owl group. I'm really excited about, and I think in addition to the many hours before COVID hit that we have really done some great data collection to thinking about how this processing of orthography might facilitate reading. And I guess going with that then now, in terms of morphology, I certainly am seeing the same thing. And so I know I already mentioned this important piece, but to me that's what's so exciting and what my goal is in research and what I work on every day. And it gets me excited about all the other work that we do is thinking about how can we assess, screen and treat children, the young age to prevent literacy failure as best we can, and of course, treated and helped those kids.
47:47 JW: That's really my passion, and morphology and orthography and even dynamic assessment, as you can see the article, you mentioned the one that just came out. We didn't think we could assess this in young kids, we thought, oh we have to wait till third grade, we can't, even don't think about morphology, you have to get phonology mastered, before you move on. And what we are finding is now that is not indeed not the case, children as young as first grade are detecting and actually processing morphological awareness. And we're finding that as young as that time period too, that we can help children to facilitate, as we need to find measurements to do that early as well as develop more methods to help facilitate that and that's what gets me going. And so really, it's across the multi-linguistic spectrum of how do we help identify, assess, and treat these kids. That's my passion, my love, and again, I love doing it with you, Tiffany. Thank you for inviting me. Yeah.
48:45 TH: Oh, same here. It's such a fun club working with you together for a long time, and I've always been inspired by how you pull together all of these pieces so well, and it just makes sense, and to do it from early until late. It is just a joy to talk to you today, and to work with you every day. Thank you for being on the podcast. I truly appreciate your time.
49:08 JW: Thank you for having me.
49:13 TH Check out www.seehearspeakpodcast.com for helpful resources associated with this podcast including, for example, the podcast transcript, research articles, & speakers bios. You can also sign up for email alerts on the website or subscribe to the podcast on apple podcasts or any other listening platform, so you will be the first to hear about new episodes.
Thank you for listening and good luck to you, making the world a better place by helping one child at a time.