Tuesday 6 January 2015

Phonics - Stephen Krashen takes up cudgels - again

This is a letter to 'The Australian' sent by Professor Stephen Krashen

Re: "Teacher training fails on literacy" (Jan. 6, 2015)
The Australian fully accepts the assertion of the NSW Board of Studies that that explicit, systmatic phonics is supported by research, and joins the report in scolding universities that do not emphasize it in teacher education.
The writers of the report are clearly unaware that study after study shows that those who have endured explicit, systmatic phonics, a method that demands that we teach all major rules of phonics in a strict order to all children, results in better performance only on tests in which children pronounce words presented on a list, in isolation. Explicit, intensive phonics has no effect on tests in which children have to understand what they read.
Rejection of explicit, systematic phonics not does exclude the teaching of "basic" phonics. A small amount of consciously learned knowledge of the rules of phonics can help in the beginning stages to make some texts more comprehensible, but there are severe limits on how much phonics can be learned and applied because of the complexity of many of the rules.
This conclusion is consistent with the views of Frank Smith and Kenneth Goodman who have, for decades, presented strong evidence that our ability to decode complex words is the result of reading, not the cause.
Stephen Krashen, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California