How reading is taught

There are several different methods of teaching children to read. All have their advocates, and all have been successful in some children. Many teachers use a combination of methods, and may adopt the method that seems to suit the child best. Some schools use only one method for all children. I shall describe the common methods before discussing their individual merits for children with specific reading difficulty.

'Look and say' method

This is a popular method, where the child is introduced to a series of illustrated graded readers that have a limited number of simple, common (‘key’) words used over and over again. The child learns to recognize these words by sight and slowly expands his reading vocabulary.

Children using this scheme usually pick up the rules of decoding grapheme- phoneme correspondences on their own. Sometimes, children are encouraged to use the basic phonic method described next when they come across an unfamiliar word.

Phonic method

Basic phonics

In this method, the child is taught the sounds of letters and then encouraged to blend these into a word (for example, dog =d/o/g). The child then adds the word to his list of words. With experience, he learns to decode more complex grapheme-phoneme correspondences on his own.

Linguistic (or phonetic) method

Here the grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in a very organized way, starting with individual letter sounds and progressing to families of words that have the same sound. This method deals with all the different spelling patterns in a systematic way until words can be broken into ‘chunks’ (such as ‘ar’, ‘tion’, and ‘ead’), which the child learns to recognize.

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