Saturday, August 8, 2020

'So if phonics doesn't work...what then?' (The Ape)


The above title is from an article by ‘The Reading Ape blog’ on April 27th 2020, that you can find here.

It was tweeted by Dianne Murphy on 5.8.2020 in her blog ‘The Literacy Echo Chamber’

Here are a few extracts and my comments.



With a quarter of ten and eleven year-olds in England unable to read to the expected standard (DfE, 2018), and with the majority of those children now having had phonics instruction for two years of their initial schooling perhaps Glazzard (2017) is correct when he asserts that if a child has received phonics instruction from aged five to seven and is still struggling to read then more phonics instruction is irrational; something different is needed not more of what has already failed.​


My comment: I have stated it again and again on my blog posts that it is the teaching of the pronunciation of phonemes of consonants that is the problem. Obviously if you practice something wrongly for years you will not improve. Practice does not make perfect. I have explained this in my post at


Why are these writers not taking off their blinkers and looking at all possible reasons as to why kids are unable to read? In fact, I have already done that and know for a fact that phonics is not working for most kids because the pronunciation of phonemes of consonants are taught wrongly.


Thank goodness that a majority of kids figure out how to read after wasting an inordinate amount of time.


Phonics just doesn't work for some children so something different is needed and the NAHT and other teaching unions were justified in crowing their success in having the year 3 phonics screening dropped (rather than hanging their heads in shame in achieving one of the darkest stains on national literacy assessment- exacerbated by the pilot's conclusions that it was poorer children who fared worse in the evaluation).


My comment: I have had several email exchanges with Dr.Richard Selznick, nationally certified school psychologist, assistant professor of pediatrics, school consultant and Wilson-certified reading instructor. In one of his emails he said that most of the thousands of patients he has examined, who are unable to read, pronounce the consonants with an extraneous sound.


All the so-called dyslexic students I had taught were unable to read in English due to confusion created by teachers who had taught the pronunciation of consonants with extraneous sounds.


I have videos of students currently studying in universities in Australia who managed to learn to read, despite having been taught wrongly, by learning through analyses. They represent a majority of kids around the world who manage to read through analyses.


Summarising research into struggling readers, particularly in later years, Kucan and Palincsar (2011,) conclude that, ‘We need to focus our efforts on minimizing the bottle-neck effects of the decoding problems experienced by some struggling readers…’ (Kucan and Palincsar, p. 354).


My comment: The bottle-neck of the decoding problems are basically 3 problems as detailed by me in my blog post at


With the poverty of research into the value of phonics instruction in later years it is apposite to review studies into adult literacy improvement for any clues as to the efficacy of an approach which seeks to advance decoding strategies where some non-phonic compensatory schemas may be established.

My comment: It has been established that the best way to teach is by teaching phonics. So, let us not look for ‘non-phonics compensatory schemas’. Phonics is the sum of two components which are

Sound symbol skills + Blending abilities.


Teach the sound symbol skills correctly and end the reading wars once and for all.

No comments: