Thursday, July 10, 2014

SKrashen: Literacy Education: Need We Start Early?

SKrashen: Literacy Education: Need We Start Early?:

Literacy Education: Need We Start Early?
Stephen Krashen

Language and Language Teaching, Vol 3, number 2, issue 6: pp 1-7. 2014

Most people are convinced that children will have a powerful head start in reading if they are introduced to sounds and letters well before they start school. The conclusions of this paper are these: For the development of English literacy, early explicit teaching fails, but later, absorption in interesting and comprehensible reading works very well.

Early Literacy: Phonemic Awareness
Phonemic awareness (PA) is the ability to divide a word into its component sounds, i.e.  the ability to take the word ‘pit’, and divide it into ‘pe’ ‘i’ and ‘te’. It is thus an aural ability.  It is frequently claimed that phonemic awareness is a prerequisite to learning to read, and children must be “trained” in phonemic awareness in kindergarten and grade 1, and even in preschool. Research and observations have however cast doubts on this claim, and suggest that phonemic awareness, beyond the most basic level, is the result of reading, not a cause.

No Evidence that PA Training Improves Reading Comprehension
Children who receive training in phonemic awareness improve on tests of phonemic awareness, but there is no evidence to suggest that PA training benefits reading comprehension, i.e. performance in tests in which children have to understand what they read. A review of research literature (Krashen, 2001a) produced only six studies and eleven comparisons in which researchers attempt to see if PA training has an impact on reading comprehension. Only three of the six studies dealt with English-speaking children. These studies revealed low, zero and even negative scores for the impact of PA training on comprehension, and in some studies the number of children who underwent the training was very small. There was only one study that reported substantial impact as well as statistically significant results in favor of those trained in SKrashen: Literacy Education: Need We Start Early?: