Whole language is a Philosophy. Emerged as a grass roots movement at the turn of the 20th century. Aligned itself with the progressive movement of the 1920’s and John Dewy.
Kenneth Goodman, ‘Reading is a psycholinguistic guessing game’, 1967. Whole language ideology aligned itself within the philosophical framework of constructivism. The skills of reading and writing are acquired naturally, through experience and print exposure.
Whole language as a deskilled alternative to explicit, synthetic phonics instruction. National movement in the methodology of reading instruction. Implemented as an untested theory in education.
Heavy use of dolch sight words. “connector” or “service” words. Sight words are memorized graphemes, the visual shape of the letters, the whole grouping of letters used to represent a set of sounds and a whole word.
The text - image of a word is patterned in the memory as a whole unit. Sight words encourage incorrect eye movements. Words are processed as shapes without a definite letter sound relationship. Encourages the habit of guessing what a word is based on context and letter cues.
Students that have not been introduced to systematic phonics early or have not developed a strong foundation of phonological awareness and alphabetic principal before they are introduced to independent reading (reading beyond their code knowledge and blending skill) are at a greater risk for developing a reading disability.
Many teachers think they are teaching the code of phonics through embedded phonics. They are not. They are teaching rhyme, through print exposure. Whole Language classrooms teach embedded phonics, which is phonological awareness taught implicitly.
“Whole language teachers take what some might consider to be an informal approach to reading instruction. Reading skills are taught as a by-product of actual reading rather than a prerequisite for reading” (Moorman, Blanton & McLaughlin, 1994, p. 317).
Phonological awareness is a skill that trains the ear to discriminate between similar sounding sounds. Phonological awareness should be taught explicitly & systematically. Word awareness: identify how many words a given sentence contains. Word rhyming: identify and/or supply a word that rhymes with another.
Sound matching: identifies which of several words begin with a certain sound: man, met, mine, my begin with /m/. Sound isolation: identifies which sound is heard at the beginning, middle and end of a given word. Phoneme blending: given isolated sounds of a word, blends the sound into a word.
Sound addition or subtraction: adds or subtracts one sound for another in songs and rhymes. Phoneme segmenting: isolates sounds into a spoken word (the opposite of blending). Phonemic manipulation: changes the order of phonemes or other manipulation of sounds within or between sounds. Syllable/onset and rime awareness: given a word, segments the word into syllables/onsets and rimes.
Phonics is the relationship between the letter sounds and the letter spellings in and outside of the written text. Synthetic phonics should be taught explicitly & systematically. Instructed on the premise that the phonetic elements need to be isolated, taught, reinforced, applied & practiced.
Skills are repetitively modeled & explained. The teacher explicitly tells the students what and why they are learning. Decodable, cumulative phonics texts are preferable. Predictable & repetitive texts should be avoided. The teacher must value accuracy over fluency & expression.
English language is a phonetic language based upon the Alphabetic Code. Core skills of the Alphabetic Code are: reading, spelling and writing. Comprised of 26 alphabet letters that combine in various patterns to create 71 alphabet letter and letter combinations & phonograms which are used to pronounce the 44 consonant and vowel sounds, phonemes.
Synthetic phonics is a skill based systematic approach that unlocks the approximately 50 rule combinations of the phonograms and phonemes. Understanding the phonemic structure and the having the skills to apply it is the key to reading and writing words. Synthetic Phonics can also serve as an intervention or recovery system for students with reading disabilities or deficiencies. Synthetic phonics is fun!
In 1997, the U.S. Congress organized a national panel of experts in the field of education, the National Reading Panel, to determine to the most effective approach in teaching the skill of reading to children. The findings were submitted in April 2000 and conclude “that systematic phonics instruction helps children learn to read more effectively than non-systematic or no phonics instruction” (Ehri, Nunes, Stahl & Willows, 2001, p.427).
The Title I program, Reading First, is a nationality funded incentive program aimed to help state and local early reading programs implement "proven methods" of reading instruction in kindergarten through third grade. Phonics is high on the list of approved methods. No Child Left Behind Act mandates that districts use "scientifically proven" instructional methods as they strive to make all children proficient in math and reading by 2014.