Friday, August 21, 2020

When phonics doesn't work?


On 18.8.2020 I chanced upon a tweet by londonjohn @londonjohn9 dated Aug 2, 2020.

Replying to @Suchmo83

I'm given pupils who have had up to 2 years of phonics instruction and can barely read a word. I never use a decodable book to get them reading.

The above is nothing new to me as all my past students also had phonics instructions and were unable to read when they came to me for tuition.


I have read similar messages/ articles/ posts on blogs and Tweets.

I decided to do a Google search on, ‘how many entries for Google search on 'if phonics doesn't work'.

Answer: About 1,780,000 results

I read through the first 10 entries and here are some of what I read.

When phonics doesn’t work


The fact is that phonics doesn't work for everyone! Writing this as a teacher and the founder of a company that positively promotes phonics, I can see both sides of the fence. Phonics can be the building blocks of early reading, but if this doesn't work it's never too late to approach early reading in a different way.

You may read more here.


My comment: Has anyone asked why phonics does not work for everyone? I have asked that question and I know the answer and I have written about it on my blog.


Phonics does not work for many, simply because the phonemes of consonants is taught wrongly. This causes many children to disengage from learning to read.


The following video clip is from Australia and it is generally how the pronunciation of phonemes of consonants is taught around the world. It is taught with an extraneous sound which confuse many kids.

You can hear it under skill 2 between minutes 1.48 and 3.05 in the video here.


Here is one from Phonics International and this is from the UK.


These are not the exceptions but the way most schools around the world teach pronunciation of phonemes of consonants.


Here is one from Malaysia recorded in 2019.


Dr.Richard Selznick, a pediatrician from California told me that out of the thousands of patients he has examined, who are unable to read, a majority pronounce the phonemes of consonants wrongly. I have quoted him in my book ‘Shut down kids’. The words ‘shut down’ was coined by him in the 1990s’.


Here is another entry from the internet on ‘when phonics doesn’t work. I had written about this in my blog post which you can read here.


So if phonics doesn't work...what then? April 27, 2020 The Ape


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.​


We should ask the same questions I have asked above.

Why would a child who is taught phonics the way it ought to be taught from age 5 to 7 struggle to read?

Following is another entry with a similar message from The Guardian.

Reading lessons: why synthetic phonics doesn't work

As World Book Day approaches, academic Andrew Davis argues that the synthetic phonics check isn't an appropriate way to teach or assess reading among primary students.


 You may read more on this here.

At the bottom of the first page on the internet I saw the following.

People also search for

disadvantages of phonics approach

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too much phonics

how does phonics work

learning to read with dyslexia

Searches related to if phonics does not work

alternative to phonics

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whole word reading programs

dyslexia phonics

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Why phonics does not work? This is what the researchers and scientists should do research on and not keep saying for decades that phonics does not work for some children.

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