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Teaching the Lnguage Skills - Essay Example

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This paper introduces the factors which are critical in teaching the language skill of reading. An overview of past literature highlights the current trend supporting an eclectic approach to teaching reading to young pupils; that is, the teacher uses whichever strategies most effectively develop reading skills among his/her students (Burrell, 1998)…
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Teaching the Lnguage Skills
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"Teaching the Lnguage Skills"

Download file to see previous pages It is a believed by many parents that inborn intelligence will control how well their kids learn to read no matter what type of instruction is given, however, the evidence suggests otherwise. It has been proved that, in general, IQ has very little bearing on early reading ability. Only recently, the researchers have found that children who have difficulty learning to read usually have acceptable level of IQs (Rayner et al. 2002).
It is a fact that teaching children to read well in their early age obviously helps to develop a priceless lifetime habit; thus, it is not surprising that educators have placed enormous emphasis on finding the best way to teach these skills (Rayner et al. 2002). At one time, a great deal of debate in educational circles centred on whether whole-word or phonics instruction was the most effective way of teaching reading skills. But over the past decade or so, arguments have revolved around the relative merits of phonics and whole-word's successor, whole-language.
The concept of whole-language approach has been adopted by many teachers because of its intuitive appeal. As making reading fun ensures to keep children motivated, and learning to read depends more on what the student does than on what the teacher does (Rayner et al. 2002). But the prospect of keeping kids interested would not have been enough by itself to convince teachers to use the whole-language method. What really made it a success was an educational philosophy that empowered teachers to compose their own curricula and encouraged them to treat children as active participants, an enticing combination that was promoted with flair by some educator celebrities. The presumed benefits of whole-language instruction and the stark contrast to the perceived dullness of phonics led to its growing acceptance across America during the 1990s (Rayner et al. 2002).
It has been clearly demonstrated that understanding how letters relate to the component sounds of words is critically important in reading. The research on the topic shows that there is no doubt about it: teaching that makes the rules of phonics clear will ultimately be more successful than teaching that does not. Admittedly, some children can infer these principles on their own, but most need explicit instruction in phonics, or their reading skills will suffer. This conclusion rests, in part, on knowledge of how experienced readers make sense of words on a page an understanding that psychologists have developed over many decades. One of the first researchers to investigate the nature of reading was James M. Cattell, an American psychologist of the Victorian era (Rayner et al. 2002). To test whether proficient readers were taking in words letter by letter or all at once, he performed a pioneering experiment, exposing subjects very briefly to whole words or to individual letters and asking them what they saw. He found that they were better able to report words than letters. Thus, it seemed apparent to him that people do not ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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