How Do You Teach Language Skills Using A Literacy-Based Approach Different Approaches To Teaching Reading

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Different Approaches To Teaching Reading

Identifying the most effective way to teach reading to children has been the subject of fierce debate for decades. The two most popular methods have been the “phonics” approach and the “whole language” approach. These two methodologies approach the teaching of reading in very different ways, which has led their proponents to attack each other’s approach as deviant or even harmful to children’s learning. .

But what are the characteristics of each approach and how do they aim to build the reading skills of young students? Also, is it really possible to argue that one is better than the other? Here is an attempt to answer these questions.

Teaching based on phonetics

The phonetic approach tries to create an association in the child’s mind between the “graphemes” (written symbols) and “phonemes” (sounds) of the language. Through the use of repetitive exercises to drill this link between text and sound, teachers aim to build familiarity and comfort with the basic building blocks of written texts. Once the child has achieved this skill, teachers then encourage them to blend the individual written elements together to produce whole words; This is known as the “synthetic approach”. As such, synthetic phonetics is described as a bottom-up approach that develops towards understanding through a journey from the smallest elements of written texts.

Proponents of synthetic phonics argue that emphasizing the child’s ability to “decode” written texts is essential to creating a foundation upon which an understanding of meaning can be built. Its detractors, on the other hand, denounce the rigor and repetition of phonics, arguing that children are often bored and disengaged by the slavish emphasis on rules and individual sound-text associations. The discipline required for this approach gives it a traditional, back-to-basics quality that has a recurring appeal for generations of educators.

Teaching the whole language

The whole language approach focuses on comprehension from the beginning, with children being given continuous texts to read in order to build an understanding of vocabulary and meaning. These tests will be short, often with words that are repeated to help develop familiarity with certain key terms and concepts. A teacher will initially read with the children, but will gradually say less to encourage more independence on the part of the young students. By focusing on children’s ability to build word associations and draw inferences from text, whole language teaching has been identified as a top-down approach that places less emphasis on the rules and minutes of the language.

Those in favor of whole language teaching praise its student-led approach, which they argue is more engaging and more meaningful for young learners. Critics claim that such an approach puts a strain on teachers and that it lacks the structure and clear objectives of the phonetic method.

A balanced approach?

With the differences between the advocates of the two approaches sometimes seeming intractable, some have argued that a mix of the two methods is the most appropriate, allowing teachers to combine the best of both worlds. This may be true, although it can be argued that a divided focus on bottom-up and top-down approaches can be confusing for children. Whatever the solution, it is generally agreed that children have different preferences when it comes to learning to read, so teachers would be well advised to monitor which methods children respond to best and adapt their teaching accordingly.

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