Level of specialization

Read the following text and decides to which level of specialization it would belong. As usual, try to pay attention the the use of sentence construction, pronouns, verb tenses, etc. so that you could obtain your own conclusions abot this kind of language.

Children with dyslexia may read better after playing action video games that stress mayhem, not literacy, a contested study suggests.

Playing fast-paced Wii video games for 12 hours over two weeks markedly increased the reading speed of 7- to 13-year-old kids with dyslexia, with no loss of reading accuracy, says a team led by psychologist Andrea Facoetti of the University of Padua, Italy. Reading gains lasted at least two months after the video game sessions. The gains matched or exceeded previously reported effects of reading-focused programs for dyslexia, the researchers report online February 28 in Current Biology.

“These results are clear enough to say that action video games are able to improve reading abilities in children with dyslexia,” Facoetti says. Although the new study includes only 20 children with dyslexia, its results build on earlier evidence that many poor readers have difficulty focusing on items within arrays, Facoetti holds. By strengthening the ability to monitor central and peripheral objects in chaotic scenes, he says, action video games give kids with dyslexia a badly needed tool for tracking successive letters in written words.

But evidence for Facoetti’s conclusions is shaky, asserts psychologist Nicola Brunswick of Middlesex University in London. The researchers tested word reading ability two months later but failed to test reading comprehension, she says. What’s more, they did so with a mere six of 10 kids who played the action video games.  

Ten participants in a comparison group played video games that didn’t require constant scanning of frenzied scenes. These kids showed no reading improvement. All games in the study came from a Wii product called Rayman Raving Rabbids.

Action video games deserve scrutiny as possible dyslexia fighters, says cognitive neuroscientist Bruce McCandliss of Vanderbilt University in Nashville. But the new study doesn’t necessarily prove their worth in allaying severe reading problems, he says. For instance, children made many errors when reading nonsense words before and after playing action video games, although they did so in less time following the intervention.  

Action video games may particularly help bad readers of straightforward languages such as Italian, in which written letters usually stand for single sounds (

SN: 3/31/01, p. 205

). Facoetti’s group — Padua colleagues Sandro Franceschini, Simone Gori and Simona Viola, as well as Milena Ruffino and Massimo Molteni of Scientific Institute E. Medea in Lecco, Italy — plans to study action video games as a dyslexia treatment for speakers of English and other tough-to-read languages, in which written letters can correspond to multiple sounds.


Suggested Reading

B. Bower. Video mayhem enlivens decision making. Science News. Vol. 178, Oct. 29, 2010, p. 12. Available online: [Go to]

B. Bower. Dyslexia gets a break in Italy. Science News. Vol. 159, March 31, 2001, p. 205. Available online: [Go to]

Andrea Facoetti’s website: [Go to]

Website for video games used in the study: [Go to]

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11 thoughts on “Level of specialization

  1. I think the text corresponds to specialization level 3 – understandable language. It reminds me of a newspaper article. Even though it contains some technical vocabulary, it also seems rather informal by the use of contractions and workds like kids and shaky.

  2. I agree with Juan Carlos, I recognize it as an article. But what makes it easier for me to classify this or any text is the identification of the interlocutors/audience. The author is SP (that I assume to mean Specialist) or rather a “pseudo-specialist” and the target reader is GP (that I interpreted as General Public). I have tried to find accurate information on these acronyms, to no avail. So let me know, María, if I am wrong.
    Regarding the classification in unit 2, I am not sure I agree yet with the direct correspondece between informal-not so specialized and formal-specialized. Maybe when I read further into the subject I change my mind and see it clearer.

  3. Activity 2.2: Read the following text and decide to which level of specialization it would belong. As usual, try to pay attention the use of sentence construction, pronouns, verb tenses, etc.
    The text deals with dyslexia treatment and suggests that “action video games are able to improve reading abilities for children with dyslexia”. General language is employed in order to treat a scientific subject such as a divulgation article would do, and there is no need to be a scientist to understand the subject. The specialization level would therefore be “3: Understandable language”, which is used for divulgation, articles, some TV programs, dialogues between doctors and patients etc.

  4. In order to add some new insights into the topic while respecting the views of last year’s students, I would like to dig a little deeper into the ‘level of specialization’ discussion.
    It seems clear that ‘level 3′ is in fact the most appropriate denomination, in view of the clarity and readability of the piece. One of the previous posts makes reference to the similarity between newspaper language and the article about children with dyslexia. He is, of course, right. The presence of indirect speech, verbatim reproduction of statements and extracts -sometimes literally taken from the original research documents- attest to the fact that the blog editor -in spite of not being a specialist in that particular subject- can cope with the task at hand.
    Here lies the linguistic material for my personal position in this discussion: a three-level classification (non-specialized, partly specialized and very specialized) may indeed seem too loose, but we should try to keep in mind what occurs with, for instance, UK newspapers and their respective readerships. The information might perhaps be the same, as it is, more often than not, a biased transcription of what has already been reported by a certain news agency, but no one in their right mind would say that the same piece of news is presented in the exactly the same way in The Sun (a well-know, widely-circulated tabloid newspaper), The Guardian (a broadsheet directed to the middle-middle and the upper-middle classes) and The Financial Times (a specialized Economics-centered broadsheet dating back more than a century). The same is applicable to scientific texts: there are plenty of levels of ‘divulgation’, from the very basic to the most complex.
    Finally, the following list of not-so-frequent words taken from the article are quite interesting. Each features at least once. The terms may be recognizable and everyday for the knowledgeable reader, although the absence of pragmatic structures which contribute to their clarification -reference, synonymy, explicit definition, etc.- points to an audience of relatively highly literate readers rather than the so-called ‘general public’.
    Key terms: dyslexia, mayhem, fast-paced, accuracy, gains (used as a plural noun), reading-focused, array, strengthening, peripheral, chaotic, comparison, scanning, frenzied, cognitive neuroscientist, allaying, severe, errors, nonsense, straightforward.
    At a cursory glance, the selected key terms are either Greek, Latin or French derivatives; or, considerably high-brow Anglo-Saxon items. Thus, the text is certainly level 3, but not for the masses without distinction.

  5. The text has a level of specialization of 3; namely, using understandable language. This kind of characteristics is found in divulgative articles such as this one. The use of active voice and easy-to-read concepts are the key to categorize this text as such.

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