Written English Is A Sound Picture Code
The English written language is a phonetic code. This means that each sound in a word is represented by a symbol, or sound picture.
Some Sounds Are Shown With One Letter,
Some Are Shown With Two Or More
The English language contains sound pictures that are made with one letter, such as the sound pictures in the word cat. Each letter represents one sound. Many sound pictures are made with two or more letters, such as the oa in boat and the ou in out. Rules about these sound pictures which are taught in traditional phonics programs do not work and only serve to confuse the new reader. eg: “When two vowels go walkin’ the first one does the talkin'”, holds up 40% of the time, failing the new reader in thousands of common words like house, steak, August, bread and eight. In addition to being unreliable, rules tend to distract the reader from the decoding process and cause him/her to focus on the rule itself.
There Is Variation In The Code
Most sounds can be represented by more than one sound picture. The sound ‘s’ for instance can be represented in these ways: city voice house
There Is Overlap In The Code
The same sound picture that can spell the sound ‘ee’ in beach, spells the sound ‘e’ in bread and the sound ‘a-e’ in steak.
Most Reading Programs Are Developmentally Inappropriate
Phonics programs ask the child to learn the written code backwards. They teach the child that letters ‘make’ sounds rather than that sounds can be represented with ‘sound pictures’. This backwards strategy is developmentally impossible for a young child to understand. Imposing it on him sets him for failure from the very beginning. Phonics programs also rely on rules to teach children about the code. These rules are based on propositional logic, which we have known since Piaget is beyond the reasoning of a young child. In addition, the rules are erroneous, leaving the message that the code is unreliable. When Phonics was the primary reading method the illiteracy rate was 33% (US Department of Education, 1979).
Whole Language programs ask the child to learn to read by reading. This is illogical. Although Whole Language activities have their place and offer the child a love of literature, they do not teach him to read. When Whole Language has been the primary reading method, the illiteracy rate was 42% (Report Card on The Nation & States, 1993).