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New Zealand study spells out disadvantages of phonics reading education

07-04-2011 15:11 BJT

WELLINGTON, July 4 (Xinhua) -- An international study of children learning to read has found that the widely used "phonics" teaching method can disadvantage children for years later, say New Zealand researchers.

Another study, carried out by the same researchers from New Zealand's Otago and Victoria universities, found that children who read alphabet-based languages used the same cognitive processes as children who read character-based languages when learning to read.

Children were "primarily geared towards learning to read through storing words in the brain," said a statement from Otago University Monday.

That meant that the phonics system a teaching method that breaks language down to its simplest components of single letters, then simple letter combinations and words was unnecessary past the initial stages of learning to read.

The researchers found that 6-year-old Scottish children taught through phonics read at a much slower speed than children taught through New Zealand's more book-centered approach.

The phonics learners at ages 8 and 11 were also less capable of identifying real and non-real words in tests, more often picking non-words such as "blud" as real words.

The researchers also found that Scottish university students who had been taught through phonics as children were worse at reading new or unfamiliar words that did not follow regular letter- sounds than their New Zealand counterparts.

Phonics instruction left a "cognitive footprint," resulting in a long-term disadvantage, said the researchers.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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