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A pictorial difference between the Whole Language Method and Phonics

Why Reading Instruction Must Be Addressed First!
Education An Historical Perspective
Thank You Whole Language
Dothan Reading Scores
What We Must Do to Fix Our Education
Difference Between Whole Language and Phonics
How I Would Fix Our Local Schools
Marva Collins Reading List
An 18th Century Library owned by a Founding Father

My Credentials to Speak Problems in Education
Cat in the Hat
Critique of the Alabama Social Studies Course of Study

Who's Learning Disabled?
Behavior models attitudes and beliefs
Education Today
From the Whole Language Catalog

A pictorial difference between the Whole Language Method and Phonics

This pictorial description of the difference in philosophy and practice between Phonics and Whole Language from Education Week, March 20, 1996 is the best explanation of the difference in instruction between the two methods that I have seen.  Does it seem that one has the cart before the horse?  A child must walk before he can run.  Indeed, he must crawl to develop critical muscles for mental as well as physical development.  By demeaning or deleting proficiency in the most basic element of learning, the ability to decode unfamiliar words, WL proponents have actually committed malpractice upon generations of children having condemned them to being at best adequate readers because they memorize and guess well.  At worst...we see children being labeled retarded or learning disabled simply because the method of their reading instruction has actually been so glaringly deficient as to impede their ability to learn to read.    Children who test verbally with gifted IQs are being labeled and put into special education simply because of the insistence of our education establishment to teach our children to read as if they were learning Mandarin Chinese...teaching words as symbols (look-say/ whole word) rather than analyzing a group of phonemes arranged in syllables to "sound out" the word  (phonics).   Rather than accepting the fact that some children must be drilled more thoroughly in the most fundamental skill of the literate world...they slap a label on them and then remediate with the same method that caused the problem in the first place. 

I particularly cringe when WL proponents say..."create meaning from their own experience."  How about just teaching to read in order that they might get the meaning intended by the how to repair an engine on an airplane.  Or engineer a repair for a bridge.  Or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle.  I do not care for them to "create meaning from their own experience."  Do You?



Whole Language


Rudolph Flesch wrote this book about 40 years ago.  Sadly, the education establishment continues to ignore its conclusions.


Teacher Directed reading instruction teaching children to sound out words first.

Children learn to open and hold a book (preferably a basal reader with controlled vocabulary) and discover that words run left to right and top to bottom. 

Child masters 44 sound letter correlations that can be created in English (such as bl, pl, cr and br) before they move into actual words and texts.


Child can connect letters to sounds.




Child learns how to blend sounds.





Child recognizes letter-sound patterns such as cat, hat, bat.


Basic Skills Classroom:  This teaching philosophy builds on a series of basic skills that introduce emergent readers to such fundamental skills as holding a book right side up, learning their ABCs, linking sounds and letters, connecting sounds and recognizing words with similar sound patterns.

This phonics based total reading, spelling and writing program brought John Winston's 98% minority elementary school in  Natchitoches, Louisiana, serving 3 housing projects from the 25th to the 80th percentile in the first grade in one year and decreased the number of "dyslexic" children from 40 to 1. 

The ABEKA curriculum is one that I am very familiar with.  As a teacher, I like the sequential skills development in the curriculum guide for ever grade K through Twelfth Grade.  I like the fact that there is repetition, reinforcement, and logical sequencing of skills.  I also like the fact that a child will not miss something critical in their skills development because a teacher gets carried away with literature and a certain topic and neglects the hard work of teaching correct grammar and writing.  As a parent, I like the fact that results remain evident in the high scores of the students on the standardized tests and I do not have to worry about the content of the is laid out in the curriculum guide.

Explains the philosophy of Whole Language and features its philosophers.

Less technique than learner-centered philosophy encouraging children to learn to read the way they learned to speak, plunging in with whole words, sentences and stories.

Child selects own reading materials.


Child reads such "authentic" texts as class children's books and magazines.




Child interprets meaning based on experiences and understanding.



Child receives instruction in basic skills "as needed" within the context of what is read. (too bad if you're absent that day, or if the teacher doesn't "notice" you need help with a certain skill.

Child learns to decipher unfamiliar words in context. (They are taught to "guess" what the word might be from the words they recognize surrounding that word filling in with "whatever" until you guess the right word.)

Whole Language Classroom: The teaching philosophy builds on a variety of reading and writing activities that encourage emergent readers to choose their own books, enjoy classic literature, construct meaning from their own experiences, sound out words in context and decipher syntactical "clues".

Reading Reform Foundation POBox 98785 Tacoma, WA 98498-0785 (253) 588-3436. They take MC and Visa. 

Teach Your Child to Read in 60 Days--Delightful Reading--How he taught his two preschool age daughters to read.  It includes his 60 day experiences with games and toys which delight while they teach.  Paperback 207 pages $3.95

Developmental Phonics for Early Childhood--Martha Kent: Ages 3 1/2-6--A how to book combining the elements of Montessori and Spalding methods giving the teacher a very strong background for teaching young children.  Suggests the Primary Phonics Storybooks by Barbara Makar and the Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Spalding ($14.95) as additional books.  Plastic spiral bound 8 1/2 X 11"--39 pages  7.50

Primary Phonics Storybooks--Barbara Makar: K through 4--A series of storybooks which give practice reading phonetic principles.  Each set introduces new concepts and reviews the ones previously covered.  Ten paperback books to a set; approximately 16 pages to a book.  Order by Set Number: Set 1: practice with the consonant letters and the short vowels---$15.95  Set 2: practice with the long vowels and the digraphs ie,oc,ee,oa,ai,and ca  $15.95  Set 3: practice with plurals, initial and final blends, compound words and two syllable words $15.95  Set 4: practice with additional consonant blends, words with a vowel followed by r, and consonant digraphs..$15.95  Set 5: practice with plural forms, compound, and two-syllable words; introduces new vowel digraphs--$15.95

Professor Phonics Gives Sound Advice--Sister Monica Foltzer K-3.  Student book, Teacher Book, Key word cards and Spelling list.  This is a popular program and is used by Marva Collins at her Westside Preparatory School in Chicago.  The books are paperback; the student reader (112 pages), the instruction manual (32 pages), the spelling and word list (16 pages), and 38 keyword cards are included.  The kit contains all that is needed to teach reading at home or in a classroom... $14.20  Students book--paperback,112 pages $5.80  Student Book--paperback, 52 pages $3.80

You Can Teach Anyone to Read and Spell--Video Tape Cassette, 70 min; recommended for persons wanting to know more about the method and how to teach reading and spelling using Char's method...$55.00

Word Recognition: The Why and the How--Dr. Patrick Groff and Dorothy Seymour: Handbook on how to teach children to recognize words--the indispensable tool for building the final products of the reading process-comprehension; mandatory reading for professors and teachers; hardcover  $29.95 Excellent for understanding!!!

Preventing Reading Failure: An Examination of the Myths of Reading Instruction--Dr. Patrick Groff: Recommended reading for everyone concerned with our nation's education, especially those involved with the reading debate and in teaching reading, because it exposes many of the myths that are currently taught to prospective teachers by the colleges of education; in-depth bibliography of reviews of research on phonics; 208 pages; paperback...$16.95

Games:  Phonics rummy--Set of 6 individual games; multirange from readiness one syllable words through primary and intermediate; consonant and vowel practice in reading words  $26.75

NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education--Samuel Blumenfeld: Evaluation of NEA activities in and out of education...$10.95

Marva Collins' Way--Marva Collins and Civia Tamarkin:   America's most outspoken and controversial educator shares her secrets for returning excellence in education and quality in the classrooms.  Marva, an effective and an inspirational teacher, demonstrates how parents and teachers can make any child an achiever--$7.95.

Action Reading--George O. Cureton: Multisensory, total reading, writing and spelling program requiring no training, Knowledge of teaching phonics and comprehension built into the instruction manual.  Effective in classroom for beginning and remedial reading as well as with illiterate adults and for parents.   POBox 5145, Scottsdale, AZ 85261 (602-493-76411).

Open Court Reading and Writing--Beginning reading and remedial programs; phonics foundation; literary content; multisensory total language arts approach, integrating reading and writing; only phonics-based basal reading program available (K-6); Open Court Publishing Company, PO Box 599, Peru, IL 63154-0599 (1800-435-6850).

Discover Intensive Phonics for Yourself--Charlotte Lockhart: Logical, orderly, sequential system of teaching phonetic reading, designed for classroom use but can also be used for tutoring or home schooling.  The students learn how and why words are spelled and pronounced as they are, analyze the words and learn the meanings. Shows manuscript and cursive writing forms; includes skill tests, detailed illustrations of Char's five phonetic skills and decoding; dictionary and extended skills.   Forty-six detailed lessons (e60 pages) and an audio cassette are included.   Complete phonics program; additional work should be in vocabulary building, spelling and writing.  Teacher's manual...$66.00

Sing, Spell, Read & Write--Sue Dickson: A total language arts, multisensory approach to reading/language arts; program for beginners and "Winning" for pre-teen to adult, International Learning Systems, Inc., PO Box 16032, Chesapeake, VA 23320 (1800 321-TEACH).

Know the problem:   I recommend:  Lynn Stuter's website:


Copyright 1996  These are my own working genealogy files that I share with you.  The errors are my own.  But, perhaps they will give you a starting point.  All original writing is copyrighted.  Webmaster

Copyright 1996  These are my own working genealogy files that I share with you.  The errors are my own.  But, perhaps they will give you a starting point.  All original writing is copyrighted.  Webmaster