Letters to the Editor...
The "phonics" debate
I find it discouraging that some people
still criticize phonics instruction on the
basis of a false assumption: that phonics
advocates think that students need only
phonics in a reading program.
Let me repeat: this assumption is false.
I won't repeat the pro-phonics arguments.
We've all heard them (if you haven't, go
read "Preventing Reading Difficulties in
Young Children" by the National Institutes
of Health). But I know of no responsible
phonics advocate who asserts that phonics
instruction is all a reader needs to be
successful. In addition to being able to
decode individual words, a new reader:
- Must be exposed to well-written
literature to develop a love of language
- Must be exposed to well-written non-
fiction to whet his appetite for
information that can only be satisfied by
learning to read himself
- Must develop an ever-expanding sight word
- Must be taught how to use context clues
to figure out the *meaning* of a word he
doesn't know the definition of (NOT to use
context clues to identify the word itself)
- Must be taught strategies to help him
comprehend a phrase, then a sentence, then
a paragraph, ....
- Must be taught how to extract the main
idea from a text
- Must be taught how to summarize longer
text he has read on his own
Phonics instruction cannot do these things,
and no responsible phonics advocate is
claiming that it can.
Sami Moran, email@example.com,
This month's letters:
The "phonics" debate, 5/27/02, by Sami Moran.
A Letter to (so-called) President Bush, 5/23/02, by Rosheilla McCoy.
re the intentional design-evolution article, 5/22/02, by Tony DiCicco.
the intentional design-evolution article, 5/20/02, by stewart e brekke.
Jolly Phonics, 5/13/02, by Joan Williams.
Letter to President Bush, 5/03/02, by Sherri McWhorter.
adderol, 5/01/02, by anne browne.