Saturday, January 28, 2017

Heavy phonics instruction: Australia is backing the wrong horse

Sent to the Herald-Sun, Victoria, Australia,

Re "Teachers forced to teach children phonics in major 'back to basics' move," January 28.

Australia has embraced heavy phonics teaching, because of "dismal" scores on international reading tests by Australian children.  Research does not support this move.

Early and heavy ("systematic") phonics instruction only helps children do better on tests in which they pronounce words out-loud that are presented to them on a list.  Heavy phonics instruction is not related to how well children do on tests in which they have to understand what they read. The best predictor of performance on tests of real reading is the amount of self-selected reading ("pleasure reading") that students do.

The first priority in improving reading is to make sure all children have access to interesting reading material.  It should come as no surprise that study after study shows that access to a quality library is an excellent predictor of reading achievement.

Some good readers have had heavy phonics instruction, some have not. All have done a great deal of pleasure reading. It is reading that is crucial.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California


Impact of phonics on tests.
Harris, A. and Serwer, B. 1966. The CRAFT Project: Instructional time in reading research. The Reading Research Quarterly 2: 37-57.
Garan, E. (2001). Beyond the smoke and mirrors: A critique of the National Reading Panel report on phonics. Phi Delta Kappan 82, no. 7 (March), 500-506.
Garan, E. (2002) Resisting Reading Mandates. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Krashen, S. 2009. Does intensive decoding instruction contribute to reading comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37 (4): 72-74.
Pleasure reading.
McQuillan, J. (1998). The literacy crisis: False claims and real solutions. Portsmouth: Heinemann.
Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Libraries Unlimited.
Krashen, S., Lee, S.Y. and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is the library important? Multivariate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1): 26-36.
Lance, K. (1994). The impact of school library media centers on academic achievement. In C. Kuhlthau (Ed.) School Library Media Annual, vol. 12. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. pp. 188-197.

No comments:

Post a Comment