...according to a new study on baboons. New results show that monkeys identify specific combinations of letters in words and detect anomalies -- a capacity that certainly existed before speech.
It was long thought that this capacity stemmed from spoken language because children learn spelling based on the oral language skills that they have already acquired, for example putting "m" and "a" together to make the sound "ma"...
...the baboons learned to distinguish English words like "bank" from similar nonwords like "jank." More surprisingly still, after memorizing the spelling of several dozen words, the baboons gave right answers for words that they had never seen before. This suggests that they did not memorize the overall shape of the words, although they certainly would have the ability to do so. According to the researchers, the monkeys can detect and memorize regular patterns in the organization of words: they are able to learn frequent letter combinations in English words, and thus detect anomalies, i.e. letters not in their usual place.
And speaking of little monkeys reading:
Now research by Dr Tessa Webb in the School of Psychology at the University of Leicester sheds new light on the subject by taking into account the age at which words are learnt.
She said: “Children read differently from adults, but as they grow older, they develop the same reading patterns. When adults read words they learned when they were younger, they recognise them faster and more accurately than those they learned later in life.”
She found that children in their first few years at school read the words differently from adults. However, by age 10, they were mimicking the reading pattern of adults. This suggests that the different pattern of results found in children compared to adults may be due to the fact that word learning age was not considered.
This led her to conclude that word learning age is a key aspect of reading that should not be left out of research, lest the results are unsound.
D - so maybe teaching a toddler to read is not necessary, but by mid-primary school, this special 'window of opportunity' closes.
Maybe linked to onset of puberty and an end of childlike brain plasticity?