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Knowing how to read is necessary to getting along in the world, especially in today’s technologically demanding workplace. How an individual is taught to read has been scrutinized for years. Many different methods have been used, and the one method that remains most successful is phonics.
Phonics is a method of teaching reading and writing whereby the sounds the letters make are learned. The student learns to manipulate the sound patterns made by the individual letters, as well as combinations of letters in learning new words. Reading is not based on sight, but rather, sounds. This method of teaching has been around since the early 1900s, and is widely used in the English-speaking countries of the world.
The English language differs somewhat from other world languages. English incorporates words from old-world languages and other languages in use today. Because of this, many words in use today can sound the same, but mean something totally different. The standard English spelling rules can still prove to be over 75 percent accurate, even with the inconsistencies of the different languages.
There are several phonics methods used in teaching reading today. The two most widely used are called synthetic phonics and analytic phonics. Both methods intersperse their instruction with “whole-word” teaching. It must be remembered that with any method of teaching reading, phonics is but one part of the skills needed to become a good reader.
Analytical phonics has the student workout the sounds of the words, starting with singular and blended sound patterns. Exciting, longer words are thrown in to make the reading assignment more interesting. For many years, the United Kingdom used synthetic phonics to teach young children to read. Sometime in the 1970s, they changed over to analytic phonics, but reading levels began to drop. This lead the U.K. to come back to the synthetic method.
Synthetic phonics, on the other hand, starts the student out learning the 44 sounds made by the alphabet. As the student learns a sound, he or she also learns the letter. By the use of sounds and simple words that combine to use the sounds, the student learns to read. Opponents of this method claim it is boring and children lose interest too fast in reading. but this method is very effective for slow-learners and the dyslexic student.