In an article on Star Online on 4.10.2018; The National Organisation for Dyslexia Malaysia had said the following:
It has also been training teachers to teach language through the phonetic approach, assessing and teaching children who are dyslexic, and counselling parents.
“Dyslexia is a state in which one finds it extremely challenging to bring a sound to the written letter. One has difficulty in reading, writing and spelling.
“Therefore, sounds of the language or phonics are taught and not the letter names as in the traditional method.
“Where phonics does not work all the way, as in teaching English, the whole word approach is used,” said NOD president Dr Mullai A. Ramaiah.Dr Mullai said dyslexia was often diagnosed as a disorder.
My comments: I have successfully taught more than 60 so-called dyslexic children on a one on one basis since 2004.
I teach them using Phonics and asking my students to memorise the 220 Dolch words. I have now been able to wean all my ‘Dyslexic’ students within 4 months of teaching at 3 one hour session per week.
There are many flaws in what Dr. Mullai A. Ramaiah says in the article above. Let us examine a few of the main flaws.
1. “Dyslexia is a state in which one finds it extremely challenging to bring a sound to the written letter…..”
a. A majority of the kids classified as dyslexic shut down when things are confusing to them. As Thorndike had said in 1913 (more than a hundred years ago) initial input is vital.
In my book ‘Shut down kids’ I have said the following in the chapter on ‘The importance of initial learning’:
About 70% of kids around the world learn to read regardless of the way they are being taught. About 30% of kids shut down/disengage from learning to read when new teachings are contrary to what they have learned initially.
New learning builds on previous learning. The kids who are prone to shutting down cannot transfer what they have newly learned unless they truly understand what they are learning and connect them with what they have learned. (Read more on ‘Shut down kids’ available at www.luqmanmichel.com)
b. These 30% of kids find it ‘challenging’ to bring a sound to the written letter because sound/phonemes of letters are taught wrongly by most schools in Malaysia. I have explained this in detail in my blog at www.dyslexiafriend.com.
There are many YouTube videos that teach sounds of alphabets wrongly and recently Astro has joined the group by airing a programme that will definitely cause kids prone to shutting down to disengage from learning to read. Listen to the video in my blog that is aired by Astro. This is also how alphabet sounds are taught in many schools.
As such, it has nothing to do with ‘Dyslexic’ kids being unable to bring ‘a sound to the written letter’. A majority of kids classified as dyslexic shut down when they are confused and are then wrongly classified as ‘dyslexic’ and ‘slow learners’.
As mentioned in my blog, I take about one month to get my students to unlearn what they have been taught wrongly and only then are they able to learn just like the other 70 % - the ‘normal’ kids.
With Astro having entered the fray my task in educating educators like Dr.Maszlee and Dr. Mullai A. Ramaiah is set to continue for a long time.
Please help me to get Astro to stop airing the programme that will definitely cause kids to shut down. If we teach children the correct sound of alphabets we will reduce the number of kids classified as dyslexic and slow learners drastically.
2. “Therefore, sounds of the language or phonics are taught and not the letter names as in the traditional method.”
The above is what I have read on the internet over the years and Dr. Mullai A. Ramaiah is echoing it without thinking.
Why would we not teach children letter sounds? We learned letter names and letter sounds in school and have learned to read well.
If you do not teach letter names how would you get children to read words beginning with letter names such as bee, deep, eagle, giraffe etc.
How would a parent ask kids while driving (for instance); ‘Who can see the letter ‘A’ on the building?
3. “Where phonics does not work all the way, as in teaching English, the whole word approach is used,”
This is the silliest thing to say after teaching kids the wrong sounds of alphabets. It has been decided that phonics is the best way to teach children. Whole language method has been rejected a long time ago.
I have always advocated using phonics to teach kids together with memorizing the 220 Dolch words. Refer to part iii on ‘How to teach shut down kids’ in my book.
Please help me to get Astro to stop airing the programme where phonics is taught wrongly. Please help me to bring this up with Dr. Maszlee Malik, our education minister and to YB Gobind Singh our minister in charge of Multi Media.