Saturday, January 25, 2020

If a child can speak

On 27.12.2019, I came across an excellent blog by Mark Anderson @ Manderson. The author had taken great pains to write the article. He has done extensive reading but is still groping in the dark as to why many children cannot read in English.

Unfortunately, he is looking for research reports and is unable to think for himself. He is not going to find any research reports telling him the wrong ways the letter sounds are taught. He has to wait for research students doing research based on what is in my blog.

Following are a few excerpts from his article with my comments as usual.

 “If a child can speak, they can learn phonics.”
“There are many irregular words in the English language, which would appear to make the teaching of something like phonics a daunting endeavor.”
The question to ask would be as to how kids who could not read when they went for intervention were able to read after a short period of intervention.

Were they taught phonics during the intervention? If so, then how did they learn phonics when in the first place they were unable to read?

What this means is that students need to be provided with sufficient practice to master phonological awareness and phonics skills. And we cannot blame the failure of a student to learn to decode on the irregularity of the English language.
This is what the Caucasians have been saying for the past few decades. Mark Anderson has just copied what researchers have written over the years without thinking. Phonological awareness deficit as the cause of ‘dyslexia’ was said more than 50 years ago and has been echoed ever since without thinking. I was the first person in the world to disagree with this theory in 2010. That theory was debunked in 2015.

All my more than 70 so-called dyslexic students could read in Malay. Those who went to Chinese schools could read in Romanised Mandarin. But, they were unable to read in English. Would it be correct to say that they had phonological awareness deficit only when they heard English being spoken but not when they listened to Malay and Mandarin?

As for the irregularities of the English language, I believe it is just an excuse by the Western world for want of an excuse as to why many kids are unable to read in English. Should we not ask as to how a majority of children are able to decode despite the irregularities of the English language. The same teacher teaches all the kids in a class and some read well while some don’t. Should we not try and find out why some cannot read despite having the same teacher?

No wonder “phonemic awareness” is central to learning to read! The ability to know and discern individual sounds, and then to be able to play with them and put them back together, is the core skill of reading. In other words, if you struggle with blending and manipulating the sounds in words, you struggle with reading.

Thank goodness that about 80% of the population of the world learn despite wrong teaching. It is the 20% that we are concerned about. The children who shut down from learning to read will be able to ‘discern individual sounds and will be able to play with them and put them back together’ if they were taught the correct sounds of the letters right from the beginning. They will have no reason to shut-down. It is doubtful if the author of the article knows what are the correct sounds of the letters of the alphabet.

And indeed, this is why far too many of our kids have problems with reading. As Kilpatrick puts it, “The phonological-core deficit is far and away the most common reason why children struggle in word-level reading.”
It has nothing to do with ‘phonological-core deficit’ and has all to do with kids, who are predisposed to shutting down, disengaging from learning when things taught to them are confusing and what they are taught are illogical to them.

Once I grasped this deceptively simple idea—that fluent reading is dependent on the ability to hear and speak the sounds of letters within words—prevention and intervention began to make more sense to me. Before, my understanding of the distinction between phonological awareness and phonics and what this meant for instruction was muddy. Now, I know that before even looking at a letter or a word, a student needs to practice hearing and speaking the sounds. This is how the student develops phonemic awareness. Phonics, on the other hand, is taught when those sounds are then applied to letters.
I believe, the author is still in the dark and unaware of the real problem as to why kids are unable to read in English. It has nothing to do with Phonological awareness and has all to do with the way phonics is taught throughout the world.

The initial input is paramount. Read what scientists have said in this post.

Children predisposed to shutting down will disengage from learning to read when they are confused. 

Read a post on confusion as copied from a video by David Boulton.

This situation will only get worse as kids are now exposed to wrong sounds of letters in their living rooms through the ‘Charlie and the alphabets’ episode by Baby TV from the time they are toddlers. 

“Researchers estimate that if the best prevention and intervention approaches were widely used, the percentage of elementary school students reading below a basic level would be about 5% rather than the current 30% to 34%”, there are some students who will present with more severe difficulties. And those difficulties often stem from lacking more advanced phonemic awareness. He also points out that these advanced phonemic skills continue to typically develop in grades 3 and 4, well past the point that most schools provide systematic phonemic and phonics instruction.
What are the best prevention and intervention approaches? Intervention will be reduced to less than 1% if proper phonemes are taught right from the beginning. Children will not shut down from learning to read and intervention will not be necessary.

Where did these so-called scientists/researchers get this notion that ‘advanced phonemic skills continue to typically develop in grades 3 and 4’?

         Though we can draw on a simple model to explain it, in actuality reading is complicated.

There is nothing complicated. It is the people with a vested interest that have made it so. Ask yourself as to how the majority can read with ease.

For goodness sake, please use your head to think and stop accepting what scientists say as the Gospel truth.

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