Teaching reading IS rocket science. Reading is a complicated process, which is why so many children struggle to become strong readers. The process of learning to read can be particularly challenging for English language learners ELLsespecially if they have little or no formal schooling and they have not learned to read in their native language.
This newer method attempts to eliminate the extraneous "uh" sounds which were unavoidable in the older method.
Children also learn strategies to figure out words they don't know. Phonics is considered an "analytical" approach where students analyze the letters, letter combinations and syllables in a word; in an effort to "decode" 1 the speech-sounds represented by the letters and 2 the meaning of the text.
The advantage of phonics is that, especially for students who come to schools with large English vocabularies, it enables students to decode or "sound-out" a word they have in their speaking vocabulary. Phonics proponents led by Rudolf Flesch in his book Why Johnny Can't Read attacked the whole word approach because 1 it did not get students into reading children's stories that did not have carefully controlled vocabularies and 2 it theoretically required the students to memorize every word as a whole.
Phonics advocates focus their efforts on the primary grades and emphasize the importance of students having phonemic awarenessthat is an understanding of the alphabetic principle that the spelling of words relates to how they sound when spoken. A problem with teaching the reading of English with this analytical approach is that English words do not have a one-to-one speech-sound to symbol relationship.
If they did have a one-to-one relationship, reading would be easier. In general, with a few common exceptions, the consonants do have a one-to-one speech-sound to symbol relationship but the vowels do not.
For instance the letter "a" represents one sound in the word "say", a second sound in "at", a third sound in "any", a fourth sound in "are", a fifth sound in "all", a sixth sound in "about", a seventh sound in "father", an eighth sound in "orange", and a ninth sound silence in "bread".
The speech-sounds are sometimes influenced by a the letters surrounding the target vowel, b by the sentence containing the word and c the stress, or lack thereof, given to the syllable containing the letter. Almost any combination of three letters with a central "a" can reasonably be pronounced in a number of different ways.
For instance the "a" in "pag" could be pronounced as in "page" long "a""pageant" short "a"creepage short "i" or decoupage short "o" as in "dot". It therefore follows that beginning students will have a difficult time picking the appropriate sound when sounding-out words which are not in their speaking vocabularies.
Fortunately, most readers quickly develop a subconscious word sense which helps them fluently pick the right sound based on the structure of the word and how that structure is related to other similar words they know.
Some very common words do not fully follow common phonic patterns, so those words have to be memorized. Some books refer to these words as " sight words ", but it is probably better to refer to them as "memory words" because some books refer to sight words as those words which are so common they do not have to be analyzed or "sounded-out".
It does not seem like a good idea to have "sight-words" mean two different things when "memory-words" is available. The many homonyms in English such as to, too, and two create difficulties for students, even at the university level in regard to spelling.
For those who learn to speak by learning the whole sound of a word, phonics is not an ideal form of reading instruction, because these learners do not naturally break words into separate sounds. Some phonics programs use low-interest reading material and too many boring worksheets.
Those "drawbacks", of course, are not unique to a phonics program. Whole language Whole language is a currently controversial approach to teaching reading that is based on constructivist learning theory and ethnographic studies of students in classrooms. With whole language, teachers are expected to provide a literacy rich environment for their students and to combine speakinglisteningreadingand writing.
Whole language teachers emphasize the meaning of texts over the sounds of letters, and phonics instruction becomes just one component of the whole language classroom. Whole language is considered a " top down " approach where the reader constructs a personal meaning for a text based on using their prior knowledge to interpret the meaning of what they are reading.
Some whole language programs place too little emphasis on word analysis. When that is left out, young readers may guess or skip over words they don't know and some children may not learn how to read.
Some scholars have estimated that a whole-word memorization approach puts severe limitations on the number of words that children can learn to read. These students tend to enter school with large vocabularies and reading readiness skills and sometimes they already can read.
Students from "low literacy" households are not exposed much to reading in their homes and tend to have smaller vocabularies.
They may speak non-standard dialects of English such as African American Vernacular English and can be unmotivated students, especially if they see teachers as enemies trying to change how they speak and act, in other words their language and culture.
It can be argued that a standard phonics approach might be unsuccessful for these students. Whole language approaches encourage teachers to find reading material that reflects these students' language and culture.Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science Essay Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science What Expert Teachers of Reading Should Know and Be Able To Do The most .
Teaching reading IS rocket science. ~Louisa Moats. Learning to read is a little bit like learning to ride a bike — while you are balancing a person on the handle-bars, holding a pole, spinning plates, and focusing on the destination at the same time!
Sep 10, · Teaching reading is rocket science: What expert teachers of reading should know and be able to do. Washington, DC: American Federation of Teachers. This foundational report reviews the reading research and describes the knowledge base that is essential for teacher candidates and practicing teachers to master if they are to be successful in teaching all children to read well.
Moats, Louisa C. Teaching Reading IS Rocket Science, Newman, Judith M. and Susan M. Church, Myths of Whole Language, The Reading Teacher, September Pikulski, J.J.
Becoming a Nation of Readers: Pursuing the Dream. Paper presented at the meeting of the Wisconsin State Reading Association, Milwaukee, WI.
Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science What Expert Teachers of Reading Should Know and Be Able To Do June Author note: This paper was prepared for the American Federation of Teachers by Louisa C.
Moats, project director, Washington D.C. site of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Early Interventions Project. The toughest challenges become easier when you have the right resources.
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