Why is it that some children succeed despite a lack of phonic teaching?
Yes BUT …
In order for students to become literate via exclusive Whole Language teaching – the following has to be true:
The student must be able to pay attention & to keep paying attention without becoming distracted.
The student can see, hear, speak & move with clarity & precision.
The student can also process what he/she sees & hears.
The student must be able to form letters the same way every time.
If the child can master the above basic tasks the following additional capabilities are then required…
- The student has sufficient memory storage (VAS level) to instantly recognise that ‘horse’ & ‘house’ do not look alike.
- The student understands that ‘house’ & ‘mouse’ do ‘look alike’ (share common letter patterns).
- The student can readily hear that ‘house’ & ‘mouse’ sound alike (rhyme).
- The student has effective strategies for storing useful & relevant incoming information.
- The student has sufficient intelligence to filter, classify & prioritise new incoming information.
- The student can quickly and efficiently recall previous relevant learning.
- The student can make associations and think about relevant questions.
When students can perform all of these tasks they are in a position to ‘self-teach’ because only then can they fill in all the holes in whole-language teaching.
Unfortunately only the top 15% to 20% of learners have all these skills and even then at times many of these still pay a penalty.
The less these attributes are developed, the less chance the student has of succeeding. Young learners are therefore at a disadvantage because many of these attributes are still forming. In contrast a phonics-first approach does NOT require a high VAS and is also less reliant on most of the above attributes apart from phonological coding.