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Reading Learning Methods

Page history last edited by Katie Slusher 7 years, 8 months ago


                                                                 Phonics v. Whole-Word  

Approaches to Reading:


There has been much debate among teachers and parents alike about the best way to teach children to read.  Some favor what is called the whole-word approach to reading which states that children should learn words and their meanings as a whole.  This perspective also places a heavy emphasis on context when determining a word’s meaning.  However, this approach calls for mass memorization to be able to know each word’s pronunciation and meaning which is why others favor what is commonly known as the phonics approach.  The phonics approach states that children should learn to read by first learning each individual letter’s sounds and then combining these sounds to form words.  For example, many teachers and parents tell young children to sound out words that they do not know while reading and this is part of the phonics approach.  Critics of this approach argue that there are many words in the English language that do not follow any other rules for the way words sound.


Which is better?


Most educators are now using a combination of the phonics approach and the whole-word approach.   Children must know and understand the individual letters and sound combinations to be able to read and understand new words, but they must also be able to understand and use the contextual evidence given to support their theories about a word’s pronunciation and meaning.   Teachers across the country are now favoring what is called the whole-language approach.  This approach is different from the whole-word and phonics approach because it is less focused on actually teaching reading to children and more focused on fostering enjoyment in children during the reading process.   It focuses on the meaning of the words rather than just the sounds, but falls prey to the same issues as the whole-word approach which is mass memorization.  The best approach to teaching reading is using a combination of these three methods to determine what method will work best for each individual student.




This article argues that the best way to teach kids to read is by giving them enjoyable reading material.


This site lays out the argument between the phonics and whole-language approaches to reading.


This article outlines the pro’s for the phonics approach as compared to the whole-language approach.


This video is a demonstration of the phonics approach using each letter of the alphabet.


This article summarizes the whole-language approach to reading.


This article outlines the reasons to combine the phonics and whole-language approach.


This article details how to use the whole-word approach as a stepping stone to learning phonics.


This article summarizes the phonics v. whole-word approach with particular respect to special needs kids.


This site has a variety of phonics games that children can play online.


This article clarifies the whole-language approach and emphasizes that there is no fool proof way to teach children to read- it’s based on each individual child and their needs.


This page was created by Katie Slusher.

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