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ERIC Number: EJ779647
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 21
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 30
ISSN: ISSN-1468-7984
The Logographic Nature of English Alphabetics and the Fallacy of Direct Intensive Phonics Instruction
Strauss, Steven L.; Altwerger, Bess
Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, v7 n3 p299-319 2007
US government mandates to implement intensive phonics instruction in elementary classrooms invoke an alleged scientific superiority of this approach over more meaning-centered models. But curiously absent from this scientific enterprise is a study of the phonics system itself. Advocates of intensive phonics have not demonstrated that the commonly taught patterns are capable of imparting the desired amount of decoding abilities to developing readers. In fact, the English phonics system operates at a level of complexity that essentially defies teachability. The explanation for this level of complexity is the logographic nature of English alphabetics. Recent neuroimaging research does not independently support intensive phonics, despite claims to the contrary, because the capacity of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines to identify brain regions used for decoding says nothing about the role of decoding in reading. Neuroimaging does not distinguish the phonological processing of a decoding model of reading from the graphophonic processing of a meaning-centered model. A recent multiclassroom study comparing distinct reading instruction practices found that letter-sound patterns were actually learned better by children in whole language classrooms than children in intensive phonics classrooms. We conclude that neither linguistic, neuroscientific, nor classroom research has demonstrated the superiority of intensive phonics over meaning-centered approaches to reading.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A