Wednesday, November 1, 2023

P David Pearson talks about various literacy issues


Here are extracts of the interview of P David Pearson by Dr. Sam Bommarito and my comments.

We take people's temperatures but we don't assume that the only thing you do once you've taken the temperature is to do everything you can to raise or lower the temperature directly you look for a cause and you try to root out that medical cause for it and then see if the temperature goes down so I think that the first task facing the child is transforming graphemes letters into phonemic names sounds and that's what you should focus on.

Teachers and educators are doing exactly this. They do not look at the causes of why many kids are unable to read at the end of Grade 1. These are the kids who get into higher grades and misbehave due to shame avoidance.  

Telling kids not to use context clues when they are figuring out what a word says is like telling leaves not to fall or dogs not to bark. If you are in a problem situation and you cannot figure out what the word says you are going to use every resource at your disposal to figure it out if you are a decent learner.

This has been my mantra for more than a decade. Use all the tools available. In my book, Teach Your Child to Read, I use all the tools mentioned by David Pearson. I use Systemic phonics, analytical phonics, word family phonics, memorising Dolch Words (not mentioned by David), context clues, patterns (not mentioned by David), analogy and ways of figuring out new words. 


One of the important matters mentioned but not discussed in the video above is the High Frequency Words. The Balanced Language advocates blame Phonics and say that there is no way to learn non-content words using phonics. When they are promoting balanced language they say that frequent exposure to words will retain those words in the memory. This is what I would classify as double standards and are used by these balanced language advocates to argue for the sake of argument.  

I teach my students to memorise all the Dolch words which helps them to be fluent readers. In any event, by memorising the Dolch words at least 50% of their writing will be correctly spelled. Why would any educator, with a little bit of common sense, have anything against memorising the Dolch Words is beyond me?

I have absolutely no objection to kids learning any approach to phonics. As a matter of fact, if I were responsible for teaching early reading I’d want kids to be able to do sequential decoding and analytical phonics. I am a big fan of word family phonics and it is a legitimate approach to teaching phonics. Other things being equal I would want kids to be able to use all of those things but at the same time, I also want them to be adept at using contextual clues to narrow the range of possibilities.

I use word family phonics and it works wonders. By the time a kid comes to lesson 8 a parent has to pronounce the word family and the kid will be able to read all the words on that page. As David says above, one may choose whatever phonics method one wants to use.

Poor readers, because they're less efficient in transforming letters into sounds, will often use context to guess.

Here, I believe, David does not know what he is talking about. These so-called ‘poor readers’ don’t have a problem transforming letters into sounds. They have a problem understanding how letter sounds such as muhahtuh can sound out the word mat. These kids then shut down from learning to read and we say that they cannot transform letters into sounds.

Tell me how almost all the kids who undergo intervention are able to read after a short period of intervention? Tell me how Alanna’s son was keen on reading after his mother corrected the sounds of consonants pronounced by him? LINK

Find out the degree to which new research might actually help us settle some of these issues.

Who is listening to research I have already done and published a book detailing the causes of why kids disengage from learning to read? No educator/researcher can come up with any other causes and yet is unwilling to accept what I have discovered. LINK

When will anyone do research to find out exactly why kids disengage from learning to read in English but not in Malay and Hanyu Pinyin.

If you use what I call a full toolbox of word-solving skills and by word-solving skills, we mean those sources of information you rely on when you're trying to figure out what a word says and what it means and a full toolbox that includes a letter by letter decoding and includes word family decoding and some attention to sight words. Systematic attempts to use a full toolbox of those tools are superior to just a letter sound decoding approach in helping kids.

I have continuously said that I use all the tools available to get my students to read. This is why my book can get any child to learn to read.

I'm a big fan of word family phonics you know that learning all the words that end in an in Dan, fan, can, nan are all legitimate approaches to teaching phonics and other things being equal I would want kids to be able to do all of those things and at the same time I also want them to be as adept as they possibly are in using contextual clues to narrow the range of possibilities.

I use word-family in my book. In fact, the second chapter in my book is about the family word an. The words in the list are ban, can, fan, man, pan, ran, and van. From the 8th chapter, once the child hears the word family he will be able to read the list of words in that page.

In politics, we have such a stalemate between Republicans versus Democrats in this country and it was because people take sides not positions and I think that's what's wrong with the science of reading. I'm on the science of reading side or I’m on the balanced literacy side. What we want people to do is to take positions like on this issue here's what I claim & try to support and you can put your claim forward.

I take no sides as I find that phonics is useful and many parts of the whole language is also useful for kids to learn to read.

I am a centrist and use whatever tools are available for kids to learn to read.

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