The Australian recently carried a series of articles by Jennifer Buckingham, a leading researcher into literacy at Macquarie University and its own educational correspondent Justine Ferrari on the appalling state of literacy in Australia.
Jennifer's article , “Bad teaching kills reading skills” (30/07/2013) prompted considerable correspondence agreeing that the teaching of reading in Australia was at crisis point.
The Australian published a letter from Antonia Canaris, director of Neurosensory, a teaching practice committed to evidence based instruction for those with learning disabilities and disorders, criticising what she described as the arid debate between those who support whole word learning and those who believe in phoneme-based teaching (04/10/2013).
Antonia emphasised that until a student understands how a word is formed they are in no position to even attempt to read. However, if the student breaks down a word into its smallest component, the phoneme, the student can not only read almost any word before them, by sounding out the phonemes, but also using a phoneme-based approach helps tremendously spelling.
As Antonia says, ‘the jury is in, whole word learning does not work effectively, while evidence-based phoneme-based teaching does’.
See below for news on a recently held a seminar on the same topic.