What is Rapid Naming? How does it relate to reading and dyslexia?July 12th, 2016
Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) is the ability to name letters, symbols, phonemes, words, word chunks, or objects in a quick and automatic manner. This is your ability to retrieve information without effort. I like to think of it in terms of being able to press the ‘easy button.’ It is the ability to easily retrieve information. It is so easy to bring the information up it is like you didn’t even have to think about it.
Rapid Naming has to do with processing speed. Can you retrieve information quickly? What happens when you struggle with reading? Children that struggle with reading, dyslexia, or learning disabilities typically perform more slowly on tasks that measure the speed of processing than those that read well. So, when helping a child with dyslexia or learning disabilities, we also need to help them improve their processing speed, their ability to rapidly name words.
Rapid Automatized Naming Directly Corresponds to Reading Difficulties
Almost three decades of research with the Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) Test demonstrate that the majority of children and adults with reading difficulties have problems with rapid naming. In fact, they have pronounced difficulties when asked to name rapidly the most familiar symbols and stimuli in the language: letters, numbers, colors, and similar objects.
This ability of rapid automatized naming is another aspect of phonologic processing. It is the phonologic access, the ability to retrieve easily and rapidly verbal (phonetic) information that is held in one’s long-term memory.
What Can You Do to Improve Rapid Naming?
One thing you can do at home is to make flash cards of different symbols, shapes, colors, letters, and numbers and have your students say aloud the object as you cycle through the cards. This, however, is not how we read. We read from left to right. To help with reading fluency and visual tracking skills, you should have shapes, letters, numbers and/or symbols listed from left to right. Then, have your student read the objects aloud to improve their rapid naming skills.
To start improving your student’s rapid naming skills, we have compiled an excerpt from our upcoming Rapid Naming book.
When you are trying to improve reading skills, you will want to use a program that incorporates rapid naming practice into it. Methods include drills to identify shapes and objects. You will also want to be sure that the program you use also addresses visual tracking, another cause of reading problems. When you combine the training you alleviate two problems with one practice. You may want to check out our ASW Reading, Writing, and Study Skills Program or our Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills because they address both of these as well as several other areas of perception at the same time as it improves reading fluency.
Rapid Naming: A Direct Connection
This ability to retrieve the stored information rapidly is directly related to the type of process that one goes through when they are reading. A child or adult must be able to access and retrieve the stored phonemes and/or word or word chunks that are stored on their memory at a quick rate in order to make sense of the written word.
The difficulty with rapidly automatically naming a series of objects, numbers, letters, or colors shows that reading difficulties are not just a difficulty with the phonological process (phonemic awareness). When the phonological component was taken out of the test, the speed-of-processing or accessing the information emerged as a stronger predictor of reading performance than phonological awareness tasks were.
What Can We Learn From Rapid Naming Studies?
From these studies, we can conclude that there are several areas that need to be addressed when working to improve reading skills. Phonological awareness and processing is one subset of the multiple processes involved in reading, but it is not the only process involved. Visually naming objects, letters, numbers, and colors quickly represent additional skills that are involved with successful reading. These other skills include attentional, perceptual, conceptual, memory, lexical, and visual sequential processing.
Snyder and Downey (1995) report from the Denver Reading Study that the accuracy rates of those with reading difficulties and of those with normal achieving readers were not significantly different. The only significant difference noted was the reaction time and production duration; the readers with reading difficulties have significantly longer reaction times and production durations.