Teachers Don't Ignore Phonics

The author writes, "Despite numerous surveys of the research showing decoding (phonics) works best, 85 percent of public schools use 'look-say/whole language' (WL) methods and omit decoding." The author would make it appear that most educators are ignoring volumes of current research. To the contrary, educators from Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Canada, and the United States are conducting research in actual classrooms which demonstrates that children learn to read most successfully when taught real reading from real books - and that, simply put, is WL! Also, contrary to the author's opinion, very few educators dismiss phonics, but incorporate it, as a viable vehicle to augment instruction in literacy. But most real educators are aware of the limitations of using phonetics to teach a language derived from many diverse cultural sources. Indeed, many of the most common English words are phonetically irregular. I believe that most teachers today do teach phonics, but in varying degrees based on the needs of the learner. No one would dispute the point that reading disorders are clearly connected to violent and nonviolent juvenile delinquency. But to suggest that instruction in phonetics, alone, is the cure-all, is irresponsible. Henry J. Taylor, Ferndale, Mich.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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