Why it’s tough to learn to read through phonics:
This video comes from the Children of the Code project. There are many factors that contribute to the difficulty of learning to read. At the center of and exacerbating them all is the unnaturally confusing relationship between letters and sounds. This video explores that confusion. “Unnatural Confusion” is one of 13 videos that make up “Causes and Contributing Factors.”
4 thoughts on “Why it’s tough to learn to read through phonics:”
Yes, it can take a while to learn using the individual speech sounds of the individual letters and letter combinations.
44 speech sounds plus the letters of the alphabet. And then you must learn the exceptions to the rules for sounds and spelling.
But it is still much much easier than trying to learn each of the approx 175,000 words in current use …by memorizing each one by shape individually, or guessing with context clues… learning to read in such a fashion will take many years.
A child taught with such a method, will be a poor struggling reader at best, and never really find the joy of reading.
I taught our sons how to read fluently…. comfortably, before they started grad 1. The book I used was Samuel Blumendfeld’s book, Alpha-Phonics, along with phonics flash cards from the Rigg’s Institute. Total cost about $60.00
Best thing I ever did was give my children the gift of understanding the printed word, and now they have larger personal libraries than I do.
When they were in grade one and two, they could read better than any of their friends in the neighborhood, except for a little girl down the street, who could read as good as my kids. I asked her how she could read the sentences my kids could read, and she said… “My grandmother taught me the sounds of the letters.
Some people say, ‘Oh, they are just “word calling.” They can read, okay, but they don’t have comprehension.”
Wrong,. If the word they read is in their speaking vocabulary, they know the meaning. If not, they can ask or look it up in a dictionary. Another thing I taught them to use.
But a kid that can’t even get the word off the page in the first place, perhaps because of being taught in the “Whole Language” method…. will never know.
I’m confused about your numbers. Where do you come up with 175,000 words? Research indicates that the typical well-educated adult has a vocabulary of about 17,000 base words. ((Goulden, 1989)
A beginning reader is expected to learn far fewer. A first grader would typically be taught about 350 words over the course of the school year. Many of those words are phonetic rule-breakers (words like “said” or “one”).
I couldn’t agree more with this video. I have always been an exceptional reader. Phonics and sight words together were very natural for me. It was almost innate. Then I became a tutor and a mom. The concepts of reading, the exceptions to the rules didn’t make sense at all. I teach a struggling reader the rules of Phonics to encounter a word that is an exception and then another and then another only to the leave the reader more confused. But I agree with Robert about teaching sight words. One can never be a fluent reader that way. My 15 year old has dyslexia and an auditory processing disorder which made reading difficult. However, he compensated with his excellent memory. He would memorize a word and store it in my memory based on meaning. So in kindergarten we would read Dr Suess books and he’d have an occasional slip. I’d notice him interchange words based on meaning such as (eye, look, see, saw). However he was a “good reader”. By the time 4th grade came he was drowning. The mere addition of a prefix or suffice meant learning a new word for him. He was unable to recognize the root word and simply could not keep up. At 15, he still has not mastered Phonics. His ears can’t detect the subtle differences in letter sounds, particularly vowels and blends. He has been trained on an approach that works for him (mainly memorization of word parts & meanings) and he enjoys reading. And all I can say is attempt multiple approaches to reading with each child and when he or she struggles reach outside of your own comfort zone and teach them another way.
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