Monday, October 11, 2010

Not a fan

FInally, an article that echoes my thoughts on phonics!

I always have my doubts about using phonics to teach kids to read but could never quite point out exactly why (yes i can be confusing this way). Recently, i read an article that downplayed the use of phonics while every other enrichment centers (& kiasu parents) are all hyped up about it. Regrettably, I can't remember which magazine it was though!

Anyway, i have to be clear and say that i do know my phonics. In fact, i usually use  phonics to break down a new word. However, many a times i find myself misprouncing a word. I realised that one cannot always use phonics to read the word. Here's why. Some English words are birth from greek, italian (for instance) words. You cannot use your phonics to break down these words. English phonics just don't apply to say, Greek phonics (if there's such a thing!).

Moreover, English is complicated and inconsistent. A rule may apply for this word, this scenario but not for another & there is no logical explaination for it. I give you an example. We learnt that we use the word 'is' after a singular word like 'She is, he is' and 'are' for plural like 'we are, they are'. But this rule don't apply to the word 'you' although it is referring to one person too. Instead, it should be 'you are'. Why? Nobody knows. I find phonics is as inconsistent as this. Sometimes it is 'AH' or 'Eh' or just 'Er' for the letter 'A' for example. So if we teach our child to use phonics to read, how on earth are we going to explain to them why some words are exceptional, and when they are exceptional? You have to have a doctorate in the English language to explain this one. As you can see, it can be extremely confusing for the child.

I also find phonics very disruptive to reading. You want the child to enjoy and understand what he is reading instead of focusing on breaking down words. It just takes away the joy of reading. And if they are too caught up in breaking down each word, they may miss out on what they are reading.

Well these are just my thoughts. Alot of us never learnt phonics proper but still are excellent readers. I still think that the key for raising a reader is to do read and read and read- the tradditional way. As for me and my family, we are not going to join in the rat race in this area.


  1. Hi I chanced upon your blog, and I must agree whole-heartedly with you. I abhor phonics but it is sad when teachers tell us to reinforce phonics at home. In the end, I am using whole-word recognition to teach my younger daughter how to read, and she is enjoying it a lot more compared to phonics! My older daughter is an avid reader, ravishing one book a day, and she learned reading the whole-word recognition way. By the way, I am immensely impressed by how you are teaching your boy. He seems very very intelligent!

  2. WOW for a moment i thought i was the only mom in spore who thinks this way! Yes, i agree with you, its very sad. N's teachers are also emphasizing about phonics but i tend to ignore those remarks. I prefer to have the kid enjoy reading then to make it so technical and boring for them. Thanks for your compliments- N is indeed teachable but he's not that all perfect of course! :)


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