"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Australia to require "the phonics method"

Sent to the Sydney Daily Telegraph (Australia)

Re the new "phonics requirement": ("Education minister orders universities to teach phonics or face losing accreditation," August 10)

"Phonics" could mean "systematic, intensive phonics,": teaching all phonics rules to all children in a strict sequence. Research done by Prof. Elaine Garan shows that systematic intensive phonics results only in better results on tests in which children are presented with words in a list and have to pronounce them outloud. It does not produce better results on tests in which children have to understand what they read. 

Systematic, intensive phonics has other problems. As literacy expert Frank Smith has reported, many rules of phonics are very complex and have numerous exceptions.  Many teachers say that they have to review the rules before trying to teach them: If experienced teachers can't remember the rules, how can six-year-old children remember them? Smith also notes that different phonics programs teach different rules, which makes it unlikely that learning all the rules is essential.
An approach that makes sense is "basic phonics": teaching those rules that children can learn, that teachers don't have to look up, and that actually help children understand what they read. 

Stephen Krashen

original article: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/education-minister-orders-universities-to-teach-phonics-or-face-losing-accreditation/story-fni0cx12-1227019125456?nk=e8161d120ab17d620185f1eadb13ef3f

1 comment:

  1. Without phonemic awareness, there is always the danger of learners falling into a 'visual-learning trap', in which words are recognised rather than sounded out. Knowing how an alphabet works is particularly important for English learners who have learned to read in different, non-alphabetic writing systems. Today, such biscriptal learners make up the majority of the world's English learners. Let's not become caught up in 'types' of phonics instruction - the important thing is that those learning to read English know that the squiggles on the page provide very clear indications of sound. (See: www.alphabetheadaches.com)