Friday, July 3, 2015

Uninformed about learning to read

Comment posted in response to: How Phonics is Taught Can Affect How Well a Child Learns To Read (the THE Journal).
July 3, 2015
Stephen Krashen

An article in the THE Journal reports on a study involving adults learning “made up scripts”: For one script, learners were asked to link each embedded letter to a sound within the word (known as a "grapheme-phoneme mapping" in learning parlance). For another script entire words had to be memorized.” Sounding out letters activated the left hemisphere, memorizing whole words the right hemisphere. The sounding out group did better reading new words.
Of course, in this study “reading” = pronouncing. And of course the THE Journal article and the researchers conclude that this is evidence for a phonics approach.

My brief comment, posted on their website:

The study described here compared two highly inefficient methods of teaching reading: explicit phonics and memorizing whole words. 

Not mentioned is the leading hypothesis about how children learn to read, developed by Frank Smith and Kenneth Goodman: by understanding what is on the page. A small amount of basic phonics instruction can sometimes help in making texts comprehensible, but there are severe limits on how much phonics can be 
learned and applied because of the complexity of many of the rules.

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