A helpful assistance for struggling school students in reading improvement is the use of the electronic talking book, or ETB.

The ETB has many advantages for pupils in reading that traditional approaches do not have. ETBs are texts on CD-ROM or the internet.

Here, pupils read content as they follow along with the oral narrative. They are not hindered in stumbling over words which might be difficult to identify.

With the oral narrative, pupils learn to identify new words and, at the same time, understand what is printed. Reading is difficult and unpleasant if words cannot be identified and fluency in ideas is then lacking.

If the learner does not need the oral narrative, he/she has a choice in reading independently without the narration. Thus, ETBs also may be used for those who read effectively.

With the narration, a pupil can read more-difficult ideas since assistance is given with recognizing words in print.

Animations (illustrations) provide assistance to understand subject matter too complex to comprehend otherwise.

There are additional elements in ETBs, such as accompanying music, which may help some to concentrate on what is being read. What then are selected major benefits of ETBs?

It helps pupils to recognize more words presently and for subsequent independent reading

It tends to provide for interest since some of the problems in reading are minimized, such as struggling to decode words or problems in comprehension

It assists pupils to become independent readers.

ETBs might well be an important way, among others, to help individuals to improve in reading skills.

Adults who experience reading difficulties might well be assisted in the same way as school-age learners. At a time when more are encouraged and helped, specifically, to complete high school and attend college/university, being a good reader is important not only in school but also in society.

Higher education, indeed, requires students to do much, much reading.

Dr. Marlow Ediger,

professor emeritus,

North Newton