The Phonics Method Of Teaching Reading -- By: Orris Refsell

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 10:3 (Fall 1967)
Article: The Phonics Method Of Teaching Reading
Author: Orris Refsell

The Phonics Method Of Teaching Reading

Mrs. Orris Refsell

Principal Fourth Baptist Christian Day School, Minneapolis

Parents are realizing that virtually all learning depends upon the ability to read well and that the teaching of reading is vital to the future of their children. They cannot afford to have anything but the best possible methods and materials for teaching reading in the primary grades. Yet the methods and textbooks from which most children try to learn to read are in fact very nearly the worst.

The methods and textbooks have caused the widespread reading problem in America today. We realize that reading experts contribute the reading problem to emotional tension, family interrelationships, glandular deficiency, improper eye movements, malnutrition and a host of others. We disagree. The problem lies not with the children but with the reading program itself; and that is why we have adopted the old-fashion phonics method of teaching reading in our school.

We have adopted the Lippincott reading series because it uses the very same phonics method of learning to read as did the old McGuffey readers. The Lippincott books have fine quality material in them too, poetry, character-building stories, literature, just as did the old McGuffey readers.

Let us compare the typical Dick-and-Jane type reader used in most schools and the Lippincott reader we use in our school. Let us compare them in three areas—method, vocabulary and content.

Method. How does a child learn a new word in the Dick and Jane reader? The teacher writes the word “cat” on

the board. She then tells the children that this says cat. “Notice,” she says, “how the last letter sticks way up above the others. This will help you remember the word,” and thus the child memorizes the word by the way it looks. This is called look-and-say or sight vocabulary. If a child is sick the day they learn the word “cat”—well, he just misses out. He has no way of sounding it out on his own when he returns to school.

How does a child learn a new word in the Lippincott reader which we use? The child has already learned the sound of “c” and the sound of “a” and the sound of “t.” Therefore he simply looks at the word in his book or on the board and sounds it out. After saying the sound of each letter he exclaims, “Oh, it is cat.” The words are not memorized. Only the sounds of letters and the phonic rules are memorized so that they can be used in sounding out new words.

Now we realize that practically every method of reading instruction and every reader, including the Dick and Jane readers, has som...

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