Phonics versus "whole language"
The "big debate" resolved
For years the debate has raged around the English-speaking world
in particular: is it best to learn English by "phonics" or
The world's biggest-selling book in 1999, The Learning
Revolution, says the answer is simple: combine them both.
Co-authors Gordon Dryden and Dr. Jeannette Vos say
approximately half the 550,000 words in English are
"phonetic" – spelled approximately as they sound – and
half are not.
They say most of the "short vowels" in English are
"phonetic" – with words such as hat, cat, bat, sat and
hit, bit and fit.
But those English words developed from Latin, Spanish and
French are often not phonetic.
"Learn only 'phonetics'," say Dryden and Vos,
"and you will be able to spell set, bet, get and met.
You will also quickly learn prefixes and suffic es such as un,
de, dis, re, ing and ed. But you will not be able to read
Once upon a time (phonetically: Wunce upon a time.) And
you will not be able to read the words from one to ten (phonetically
pronounced wun, tu, three, for, faiv, six, seven, ait, nain,
ten). You won't even be able to read phonetically!"
They say the long "e" in English, for instance, can
be written 12 different ways in English-English: On the quay
(spelled 'key' in American-English) we could see one of these people
seize the key to the green machine and give it to the chief officer
who threw it into the sea.
Both authors praise the late Dr. Seuss for producing books
that show parents show young children how phonic and non-phonic
English words can rhyme (From The Cat In The Hat: This is no
time for fun. There is work to be done. Or from The
Lorax: I am the Lorax who speaks for the trees, which you
seem to be chopping as fast as you please.)
They also outline games that parents can use to teach English
to young children, using "phonic fun" and "whole
word" games to teach nouns, verbs and adverbs.
CONTACT DETAILS FOR
THE LEARNING WEB
The Learning Web Limited
P.O. Box 16384,