Sunday, July 26, 2020

The "Sine Qua Non" of Reading Acquisition (Stephen Parker)

I happened to read an article by Stephen Parker on Reading Acquisition which you can read here.
Here are some extracts and my comments.

In so doing we’ll see how Share’s research leads inexorably to Synthetic Phonics (not Whole Language or Balanced Literacy, not Analytic Phonics or SWI) as the only sensible method for teaching a child to read.

My comment: How in the world did all those who learned during the whole word period learn to amass such a high volume of vocabulary and learn to read and are today working as teachers?
Definitely Pamela Snow did not learn using the synthetic phonics method. What about Diane Ravitch, PL Thomas, Robert Slavin and those who studied during that time? How did they all learn to read?

How many are studying using proper phonics, let alone synthetic phonics, say, in the last 10 years?
Hardly any are learning using synthetic phonics as a majority are learning to read via analyses. Read my posts here and here.

Astonishingly, a skilled reader on the university level recognizes somewhere between 60,000 and 100,000 words. These are words that no longer need to be identified by painstakingly sounding them out. They are simply recognized when encountered in print; their sound and meaning are immediately available. These are the words that have become “sight words” for the individual skilled reader.

My comment: This impressive feat is achieved, thank goodness, by figuring out how to read rather than via synthetic phonics. Refer to my 2 videos above. Granted, the kids take an inordinate amount of time to learn to read. We can definitely get kids to read much earlier if phonics is taught the way it should be taught. Teach consonants without extraneous sounds and kids will learn much quicker than they are doing now.

How can such an impressive feat be accomplished? Share eliminates two possible answers: direct instruction, and contextual guessing. By “direct instruction,” Share means the teaching of new words in the classroom where the teacher supplies the identity of an unfamiliar word and the student, through considerable effort and drill, consciously transforms the word into a sight word by “direct rote association.” 

My comment: Yes, teach phonics but why at the exclusion of other methods that work? Why shouldn’t we teach them to rote learn the Dolchwords? All children can learn to rote memorise the Dolch words in no time.

I believe this is the problem with most of the educators on Twitter and LinkedIn where they quote from studies done by others.

So, if a child needs to acquire 60,000-100,000 sight words to succeed in college, and neither direct instruction nor contextual guessing has a chance in hell of getting the child there, how can such an achievement occur? Share says there is only one possible answer: the child must be provided the ability to self-teach.

My comment: Thank Goodness that a majority can self-teach. They self-teach despite teachers teaching the wrong pronunciation of phonemes of consonants. 

Unfortunately, about 20% of kids disengage from learning to read when they are confused. How do we cater to these kids?

In a link in the above article Stephen Parker says the following:

Notably, for both Chinese and Japanese, memorization of around 3000 characters is all that’s needed for basic literacy.
The trouble is, it takes 12 years of schooling to achieve this monumental feat of memorization - even with the above phonetic helpers. That’s about 250 characters per year – and it requires a level of intensity, drilling, and homework that would be unacceptable in most Western schools.

My comment: Does Stephen Parker have to mislead readers to market his products? I come from a country where kids going to Chinese schools have to learn 3 languages. They learn about 600 characters each year for 6 years.

To say that they take 12 years to learn 3000 characters is therefore quite misleading.

1 comment:

Luqman Michel said...

I was pleasantly surprised to see the following words on Stephen Parker's blog post this morning.

Stephen Parker
shared a link.
1 h ·
I've totally revised my blog on the topic of sight words and orthographic mapping. I eliminated all the fluff and self-puffery as well.
I think it's worth a second read:

Unfortunately, he has not changed his statement on Chinese taking 12 years to learn the first 3000 characters.

There are also many other misrepresentations but he will not listen to good advice.