Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Reduce spelling, grammar, phonics, increase free voluntary reading: Research supports Rosen et al
Research: Rosen’s writers are right about reading and writing
Sent to the Guardian, July 24, 2012
Research supports Michael Rosen and 90 other writers and artists who urged a reduction in spelling, grammar and phonics teaching and testing, and an increased emphasis on reading for enjoyment (“Children must be free to read for fun,” July 24, 2012).
Studies done over the last 100 years show that spelling instruction has very little effect on spelling accuracy.
Studies done over the last 100 years show that the formal study of grammar does not improve students’ reading and writing.
Studies done over the last 25 years show that heavy phonics study (termed “systematic intensive phonics”) only helps children do better on tests in which they pronounce lists of words out-loud. It has no significant effect on tests in which children have to understand what they read.
Decades of research also confirm that those who read more are better readers, better writers, spell better, have larger vocabularies, and have better control of complex grammar rules.
The best way to make sure students develop a strong command of written and spoken English is to encourage wide, self-selected reading.
University of Southern California
Spelling: Research reviewed in Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading: Heinemann, Libraries Unlimited. Earliest study: Rice, J. 1897. The futility of the spelling grind. Forum 23: 163-172, 409-419.
Grammar: Research reviewed in Krashen, S. (op. cit.)., Hillocks, G. (1986). Research on Written Composition. New Directions for Teaching. Urbana, IL: ERIC.
Phonics: Garen, E. 2002. Resisting Reading Mandates. Heinemann. Krashen, S. 2009. Does intensive decoding instruction contribute to reading comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37 (4): 72-74.
Those who read more …. Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Heinemann and Libraries Unlimited.
Children must be free to read for fun
July 24, 2012
Letter published in The Guardian
We are writers and artists who produce books for children. In our view, the proposed draft primary English curriculum, the phonics screening check at the end of year 1, and the new spelling, punctuation and grammar test at the end of year 6 pose a threat to reading for pleasure in primary schools.
The recent Ofsted report Moving English Forward made a specific recommendation to the government that it call on all schools to develop policies on reading for enjoyment. To date, there has been no such move by government. On the other hand, millions are being spent on systematic synthetic phonics programmes and training, subsidised by the government, although there is no evidence that such programmes help children understand what they are reading.
As a result, more school time will be devoted to reading as an academic, test-driven exercise; less time will be available for reading and writing for enjoyment. We deplore this state of affairs and consider that the quality of children's school lives is about to be altered for the worse.
We call on the government to implement the Ofsted recommendation on reading for pleasure, to withdraw the phonics screening check and the spelling, punctuation and grammar test, and to reinstate mixed methods of initial reading methods (which include "basic phonics" and real books).
Bob and Brenda Swindells
Dr Jenny Sullivan
Dr Lydia Syson
Chris De Cordova