Essay on Phonics and Whole language methods

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Phonics and Whole language methods Phonics is a technique that teaches beginning readers to associate a particular sound with each letter of the alphabet or letter combination (Unger, 1996). Students receive explicit instruction in the mechanics of reading before they begin the actual process. Once students know what sounds correspond with each letter or letter combination, they move on to sounding out words. The English language has only about forty-four sounds, so when students begin to read, they move along in strict order so that he or she only sees words whose letter sounds they have already learned (Flesch, 1983). An example from Rudolf Flesch‘s book Why Johnny Still Can‘t Read is that students would have learned the sounds…show more content…
The other popular technique of reading instruction is whole language, also known as the “look-say” method. It has roots that reach back to the 1920s, when some teachers favored “experience charts” in place of text books (Chall, 1992). Two of whole language instruction’s biggest advocates are Ken Goldman and Frank Smith. In the late 1960s, they observed that adults seemed to process written word without recoding it letter by letter, or sound by sound. Based on this, Goodman and Smith claimed that children should learn to read naturally, as they learn to speak, and that breaking words down into sounds was unnecessary (Moats, 2000). The basic focus of whole language learning is less on the rules and repetitions that are prevalent in phonics instruction, and more on the meaning of the text and how it flows. Whole language emphasizes reading for meaning, and uses language in ways that relate to the students lives directly (Curtis, 1997). Sounding out words, as used in phonics, is not used in this type of instruction. Whole language experts advise that “most students will learn to read and write with no explicit instruction in phonics and spelling” (Moats, 2000). Students are encouraged to decode words in context, and they are taught that the answers are not as important as the process (Haring, 1998). Often, teachers will advise students to use pictures in the story to help them figure out
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