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RE: [ExtensiveReading] whole language in Australia

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  • Shawn Ladbrook
    Thanks for the clarity in these articles Stephen!! As I said, I believe Janet s attack was politically motivated as she is knowledgeable about Law, not ELT. As
    Message 1 of 8 , May 3 5:26 AM
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      Thanks for the clarity in these articles Stephen!! As I said, I believe
      Janet's attack was politically motivated as she is knowledgeable about Law,
      not ELT.

      As for David Hill's comments:
      "I rather agree with her. The profession here is, I think, rediscovering
      phonics after finding the look and say method was not the whole answer. The
      truth is though that different children learn in different ways and the
      teacher has to use several approaches with a class.
      David Hill"
      Well, I am a little surprised that you agree with her David!? She doesn't
      suggest a balanced, eclectic approach. An approach I thought you would have
      championed! She suggests pushing the 'pendulum' back to another extreme
      again, something I thought you would have tried to show was wrong.

      Shawn Ladbrook



      >From: Stephen Krashen <krashen@...>
      >Reply-To: ExtensiveReading@yahoogroups.com
      >To: ExtensiveReading@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: [ExtensiveReading] whole language in Australia
      >Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 22:57:18 -0700
      >
      >Concerning that article in the Australian, Mem Fox, who was attacked
      >in the article, wrote a response, which was published.
      >
      >
      >Letter published in The Australian
      >Mem Fox: 'Read aloud to children'
      >29 April 2004
      >MOST TALKED ABOUT
      >Subtleties of phonics
      >
      >SEE Janet (Opinion, 28/4) reed.
      >
      >See Janet wright.
      >
      >See Janet fail to understand the subtleties of fonix.
      >
      >See Janet fail to state that only 50 per cent of the
      >English language can be decoded phonically.
      >
      >See Janet fail to note that phonics is a pillar of
      >balanced whole language teaching.
      >
      >See Janet fail to discover that no matter which
      >reading method schools adopt, it is universally
      >acknowledged that children who are read aloud to for
      >10 minutes a day, from birth to five, significantly
      >improve their educational potential, and many learn to
      >read before school without a single lesson.
      >
      >See Janet fail to grasp that the role of Mark Latham's
      >Read Aloud Ambassador is to encourage parents to read
      >aloud to their pre-school children - particularly in
      >the first years of life - not to set the reading
      >curriculum for the entire country.
      >
      >
      >See Janet take more care in future.
      >Mem Fox
      >Brighton, SA
      >
      >
      >Sent to the Australian, April 29
      >
      >Janet Albrechtsen has the facts wrong ("Latham
      >stutters over reading revolution," April 28). Whole
      >language supporters do not reject phonics. They reject
      >excessive and mindless phonics teaching, teaching that
      >attempts to cover every known phonics rule and that is
      >delivered in a strict, mechanical order.
      >
      >A careful look at the research shows that heavy
      >phonics instruction only has a clear impact on tests
      >in which children read words in isolation. On tests of
      >reading comprehension given after grade 1, the effect
      >of heavy phonics instruction is minuscule.
      >
      >Science has not "debunked" whole language nor have
      >whole language supporters ignored research. Rather,
      >heavy phonics enthusiasts have ignored the research
      >that shows the limitations of intensive phonics, and
      >that shows that we learn to read by understanding
      >texts. A knowledge of phonics is one of the means
      >children use to understand texts, but it is not the
      >only one.
      >
      >Stephen Krashen, Ph.D.
      >Professor Emeritus
      >University of Southern California
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
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    • gradedreading
      I m with David Hill on this one. I do remedial work with students in the 16-19-age range and my experience indicates serious problems in the way that reading
      Message 2 of 8 , May 4 10:14 AM
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        I'm with David Hill on this one. I do remedial work with students
        in the 16-19-age range and my experience indicates serious
        problems in the way that reading has been taught in the UK.
        Many university-bound students openly confess that they dislike
        reading and never read anything for pleasure; others have
        technical problems decoding text.

        As the article indicated, the usual response to these difficulties
        is to assume some sort of dyslexia: 'Too many children who
        have not learned to read are dragged off to specialists. But there
        is no organic problem with their brain. Instead, they are what one
        specialist calls "instructional casualties" –they were never taught
        the sounds that make up the words they are expected
        to read.'

        The problem has been compounded in Britain by the offering of
        material reward (a free laptop via the Disabled Students
        Allowance) and academic advantage (extra time in exams) to
        students diagnosed with 'learning difficulties', a term too often
        used as a euphemism for weak basic literacy. Every college and
        university in the UK can testify to the explosion in the numbers of
        students with 'special arrangements' - in my college it is over five
        percent of the total student population. As the writer indicates
        such a vast number would indicate that the 'organic problem'
        theory seems implausible in the majority of cases.

        Of course a large part of the problem is that a lot of the joy has
        been taken out of exploring the world of books. Reading for
        reading's sake is alien to the thrust of education policy - even an
        apparently beneficial initiative like the literacy hour in primary
        schools comes loaded with the paraphernalia of target setting
        and box ticking. The general mentality was summed up for me
        today when our principal announced today that as teachers we
        must not focus on 'on imparting knowledge' but on 'delivering
        qualifications' .

        Surely basic phonics and extensive reading do not need to be
        mutually exclusive? Incorporating both approaches is necessary
        and desirable, particularly at the early stages of reading.

        Kieran McGovern

        Editor, EFL Reading--
        http//www.gradedreading.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
      • Lynn Ellingwood
        Research has indicated that there is a certain number of students who don t learn to read in a large classroom and need reading specialists. Often poor readers
        Message 3 of 8 , May 4 3:33 PM
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          Research has indicated that there is a certain number of students who
          don't learn to read in a large classroom and need reading specialists.
          Often poor readers are subjected to phonics based remedial practices
          for most of their school careers. It doesn't help. Phonics can be
          used for a certain period of time to teach reading but you don't keep
          beating the bush if it isn't working. Structural analysis of words and
          comprehension strategies are much more important. There are many
          people working in reading and in TESOL who have had no exposure to
          reading research and continue to parrot old remedial reading practices
          that are not effective or have been already used on the student before
          and didn't work.
          The comment about dyslexia was telling. Dyslexia is used often and
          inappropriately by many people. True dyslexia is a problem with the
          brain and sufferers will never go beyond a 2nd - 3rd grade reading
          level. Many people want to use that term because it sounds medical.
          Lynn

          On May 4, 2004, at 1:14 PM, gradedreading wrote:

          >
          > I'm with David Hill on this one. I do remedial work with students
          > in the 16-19-age range and my experience indicates serious
          > problems in the way that reading has been taught in the UK.
          > Many university-bound students openly confess that they dislike
          > reading and never read anything for pleasure; others have
          > technical problems decoding text. 
          >
          > As the article indicated, the usual response to these difficulties
          > is to assume some sort of dyslexia: 'Too many children who
          > have not learned to read are dragged off to specialists. But there
          > is no organic problem with their brain. Instead, they are what one
          > specialist calls "instructional casualties" –they were never taught
          > the sounds that make up the words they are expected
          > to read.'
          >
          > The problem has been compounded in Britain by the offering of
          > material reward (a free laptop via the Disabled Students
          > Allowance) and  academic advantage (extra time in exams) to
          > students diagnosed with 'learning difficulties', a term too often
          > used as a euphemism for weak basic literacy. Every college and
          > university in the UK can testify to the explosion in the numbers of
          > students with 'special arrangements' - in my college it is over five
          > percent of the total student population. As the writer indicates 
          > such a vast number would indicate that the 'organic problem'
          > theory seems implausible in the majority of cases.
          >
          > Of course a large part of the problem is that a lot of the joy has
          > been taken out of  exploring the world of books. Reading for
          > reading's sake is alien to the thrust of education policy - even an
          > apparently beneficial initiative like the literacy hour in primary
          > schools comes loaded with the paraphernalia of target setting
          > and box ticking. The general mentality was summed up for me
          > today when  our principal announced today that  as teachers we
          > must not focus on  'on imparting knowledge' but on 'delivering
          > qualifications' . 
          >
          > Surely basic phonics and extensive reading do not need to be
          > mutually exclusive? Incorporating both approaches is necessary
          > and desirable, particularly at the early stages of reading.
          >
          > Kieran McGovern
          >
          > Editor, EFL Reading--
          > http//www.gradedreading.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
        • Clive Lovelock
          I know of one child, a friend of my daughter s, who has a mild case of dislexia and gets extra time for exams. She underwent a comprehensive battery of
          Message 4 of 8 , May 7 10:11 PM
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            I know of one child, a friend of my daughter's, who has a "mild case" of
            dislexia and gets extra time for exams. She underwent a comprehensive
            battery of perceptual and short-term memory tests, which seemed quite
            rigorous. Her teacher at her private school says that about 40% of
            their pupils (mostly of average-to-above intelligence) have some degree
            of dislexia and that it's a phenomenon that went largely unnoticed -
            except for extreme cases - until recent years. Presumably it's possible
            that some children and/ or their parents exaggerate their problems to
            gain an advantage in exams, but could it be that this problem is like
            certain crimes such as rape or child abuse - they seem to be getting
            worse only because they are more easily detectable now? Apparently,
            though it's true that the condition is incurable, in the sense that
            dislexic individuals have difficulty remembering the spellings of
            particular words, they can be helped to overcome many of these if they
            happen to be rule-governed. In other words, phonics helps them up to a
            point. The child I mentioned took a course of remedial training, and now
            her spelling is just erratic, rather than atrocious, and her reading
            speed has improved considerably. though still below average.

            I suppose teaching is not the only field where "conventional wisdom"
            tends to be governed by a swinging pendulum that results in lots of
            babies getting thrown out with the bath water, but we certainly seem to
            be addicted to this tendency. Vis - grammar translation? Oh, no! Stop
            explaining rules, stop translating -> Direct Method? Oh, no! Don't let
            them make mistakes, break everything down into tiny steps with
            simplified content and drill them till they're perfect. ->
            Audio-lingual? Oh, no! It's inhuman. Stop drilling. Stop them
            memorizing. Make them think. -> Cognitive approach? Oh, no! Don't focus
            on language. It's impractical. Focus on communication. -> Communication?
            But what about grammar? Shouldn't we be teaching that? .... Whereas in
            fact, all of those "out-dated" approaches did include valid principles
            regarding learning. It was (and is) just that a principle is only an
            abstraction, which is ipso facto a distortion of reality. Reality
            (nature) - which includes language, communication and learning - is far
            far more complex than any principle. In fact all these things - grammar,
            repetition, memorized formulaic phrases, time to think, USE of language
            (communication or expression) as opposed to study or practice, study,
            practice and many many other factors all need to be included in the
            recipe for language learning. The same goes for literacy. While phonics
            is not THE answer, it's still part of the answer. While one could argue
            that a "whole language" approach should be more eclectic and therefore
            more likely to help than a pure diet of phonics, it won't be eclectic
            enough if it summarily dismisses phonics. It's never as simple as a
            choice between X or Y. It's more like finding a balance between X, Y, Z
            and A to X. Plus, as many people have already commented, individual
            learners have different cognitive styles.

            CL

            Lynn Ellingwood wrote:
            > Research has indicated that there is a certain number of students who
            > don't learn to read in a large classroom and need reading specialists.
            > Often poor readers are subjected to phonics based remedial practices for
            > most of their school careers. It doesn't help. Phonics can be used for a
            > certain period of time to teach reading but you don't keep beating the
            > bush if it isn't working. Structural analysis of words and comprehension
            > strategies are much more important. There are many people working in
            > reading and in TESOL who have had no exposure to reading research and
            > continue to parrot old remedial reading practices that are not effective
            > or have been already used on the student before and didn't work.
            > The comment about dyslexia was telling. Dyslexia is used often and
            > inappropriately by many people. True dyslexia is a problem with the
            > brain and sufferers will never go beyond a 2nd - 3rd grade reading
            > level. Many people want to use that term because it sounds medical. Lynn
            >
            > On May 4, 2004, at 1:14 PM, gradedreading wrote:
            >
            >
            > I'm with David Hill on this one. I do remedial work with students
            > in the 16-19-age range and my experience indicates serious
            > problems in the way that reading has been taught in the UK.
            > Many university-bound students openly confess that they dislike
            > reading and never read anything for pleasure; others have
            > technical problems decoding text.
            >
            > As the article indicated, the usual response to these difficulties
            > is to assume some sort of dyslexia: 'Too many children who
            > have not learned to read are dragged off to specialists. But there
            > is no organic problem with their brain. Instead, they are what one
            > specialist calls "instructional casualties" –they were never taught
            > the sounds that make up the words they are expected
            > to read.'
            >
            > The problem has been compounded in Britain by the offering of
            > material reward (a free laptop via the Disabled Students
            > Allowance) and academic advantage (extra time in exams) to
            > students diagnosed with 'learning difficulties', a term too often
            > used as a euphemism for weak basic literacy. Every college and
            > university in the UK can testify to the explosion in the numbers of
            > students with 'special arrangements' - in my college it is over five
            > percent of the total student population. As the writer indicates
            > such a vast number would indicate that the 'organic problem'
            > theory seems implausible in the majority of cases.
            >
            > Of course a large part of the problem is that a lot of the joy has
            > been taken out of exploring the world of books. Reading for
            > reading's sake is alien to the thrust of education policy - even an
            > apparently beneficial initiative like the literacy hour in primary
            > schools comes loaded with the paraphernalia of target setting
            > and box ticking. The general mentality was summed up for me
            > today when our principal announced today that as teachers we
            > must not focus on 'on imparting knowledge' but on 'delivering
            > qualifications' .
            >
            > Surely basic phonics and extensive reading do not need to be
            > mutually exclusive? Incorporating both approaches is necessary
            > and desirable, particularly at the early stages of reading.
            >
            > Kieran McGovern
            >
            > Editor, EFL Reading--
            > http//www.gradedreading.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
            >
            >
          • Lynn Ellingwood
            Dylexia is a term widely used. Most reading disabilities are not dyslexia. Dyslexia is a rare and extreme condition. Phonics needs to be used to some extent
            Message 5 of 8 , May 8 7:35 AM
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              Dylexia is a term widely used. Most reading disabilities are not
              dyslexia. Dyslexia is a rare and extreme condition. Phonics needs to
              be used to some extent but many students with reading disabilities are
              given more and more phonics type programs and have less exposure to
              reading and books. It is a swirling spiral. Fact is, the more reading
              one does, the better reader and speller one becomes.
              There is a big problem with education in that most teachers never are
              exposed to and read educational research. More than 90% just go with
              the flow, copy what others have done before them and quote age-old
              stereotypes without insight. The perception of fads in education
              probably stem from that. Most never have exposure to new methods of
              teaching except at workshops and the comprehension is never more than
              skin deep. The pendulum swings back when there is a backlash. Lynn

              On May 8, 2004, at 1:11 AM, Clive Lovelock wrote:

              > I know of one child, a friend of my daughter's, who has a "mild case"
              > of
              > dislexia and gets extra time for exams. She underwent a comprehensive
              > battery of perceptual and short-term memory tests, which seemed quite
              > rigorous. Her teacher at her private school says that about 40% of
              > their pupils (mostly of average-to-above intelligence) have some degree
              > of dislexia and that it's a phenomenon that went largely unnoticed -
              > except for extreme cases - until recent years. Presumably it's possible
              > that some children and/ or their parents exaggerate their problems to
              > gain an advantage in exams, but could it be that this problem is like
              > certain crimes such as rape or child abuse - they seem to be getting
              > worse only because they are more easily detectable now? Apparently,
              > though it's true that the condition is incurable, in the sense that
              > dislexic individuals have difficulty remembering the spellings of
              > particular words, they can be helped to overcome many of these if they
              > happen to be rule-governed. In other words, phonics helps them up to a
              > point. The child I mentioned took a course of remedial training, and
              > now
              > her spelling is just erratic, rather than atrocious, and her reading
              > speed has improved considerably. though still below average.
              >
              > I suppose teaching is not the only field where "conventional wisdom"
              > tends to be governed by a swinging pendulum that results in lots of
              > babies getting thrown out with the bath water, but we certainly seem to
              > be addicted to this tendency. Vis - grammar translation? Oh, no! Stop
              > explaining rules, stop translating -> Direct Method? Oh, no! Don't let
              > them make mistakes, break everything down into tiny steps with
              > simplified content and drill them till they're perfect. ->
              > Audio-lingual? Oh, no! It's inhuman. Stop drilling. Stop them
              > memorizing. Make them think. -> Cognitive approach? Oh, no! Don't focus
              > on language. It's impractical. Focus on communication. ->
              > Communication?
              > But what about grammar? Shouldn't we be teaching that? .... Whereas in
              > fact, all of those "out-dated" approaches did include valid principles
              > regarding learning. It was (and is) just that a principle is only an
              > abstraction, which is ipso facto a distortion of reality. Reality
              > (nature) - which includes language, communication and learning - is far
              > far more complex than any principle. In fact all these things -
              > grammar,
              > repetition, memorized formulaic phrases, time to think, USE of language
              > (communication or expression) as opposed to study or practice, study,
              > practice and many many other factors all need to be included in the
              > recipe for language learning. The same goes for literacy. While phonics
              > is not THE answer, it's still part of the answer. While one could argue
              > that a "whole language" approach should be more eclectic and therefore
              > more likely to help than a pure diet of phonics, it won't be eclectic
              > enough if it summarily dismisses phonics. It's never as simple as a
              > choice between X or Y. It's more like finding a balance between X, Y, Z
              > and A to X. Plus, as many people have already commented, individual
              > learners have different cognitive styles.
              >
              > CL
            • Shawn Ladbrook
              Totally agree with Clive. Seeing as tho I started this post maybe I should say something else. As a number of people pointed out phonics is/should be included
              Message 6 of 8 , May 8 11:19 PM
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                Totally agree with Clive.

                Seeing as tho I started this post maybe I should say something else.

                As a number of people pointed out phonics is/should be included with whole
                language. It seems to me there is no debate over this, except with those
                such as Janet Albrechtsen (the writer of the original article I posted) who
                have political agendas. Or maybe others (not that any have shown up here yet
                that I know of) with financial agendas.

                I guess my biggest mistake was titling this post. I think I titled it 'Whole
                language vs phonics'. I should have titled it something like 'Albrechtsen
                proves she knows nothing about ELT!'. Please forgive me this transgression.


                Shawn Ladbrook

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              • Lynn Ellingwood
                I think it is not just a political agenda, but ignorance and confusion. There isn t a lot of understanding among educators much less the public in general.
                Message 7 of 8 , May 9 8:06 AM
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                  I think it is not just a political agenda, but ignorance and confusion.
                  There isn't a lot of understanding among educators much less the
                  public in general. Lynn

                  On May 9, 2004, at 2:19 AM, Shawn Ladbrook wrote:

                  > Totally agree with Clive.
                  >
                  > Seeing as tho I started this post maybe I should say something else.
                  >
                  > As a number of people pointed out phonics is/should be included with
                  > whole
                  > language. It seems to me there is no debate over this, except with
                  > those
                  > such as Janet Albrechtsen (the writer of the original article I
                  > posted) who
                  > have political agendas. Or maybe others (not that any have shown up
                  > here yet
                  > that I know of) with financial agendas.
                  >
                  > I guess my biggest mistake was titling this post. I think I titled it
                  > 'Whole
                  > language vs phonics'. I should have titled it something like
                  > 'Albrechtsen
                  > proves she knows nothing about ELT!'. Please forgive me this
                  > transgression.
                  >
                  >
                  > Shawn Ladbrook
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