A reading test that's hard to comprehend

25th March 2011 at 00:00

It is very important that children become fluent readers and phonics has a part in that - but only a part. The first requirement is motivation, and not simply the wish to please teacher.

Phonics has rather more shortcomings than indicated in the article "There's nothing to decode: testing six-year-olds on phonics is a sound way to ensure they can read" (18 March). It referred to words with like spellings but different meanings and sounds.

Just think of the following sentence: "I want you to come to me." The "I" is not pronounced as in "bit". The "a" of "want" is not as in "ant". The "o" of "to" is not as in "top". The "o" of "come" is not as in "home". The "e" of "me" is not as in "bet".

We read for context and understanding. The phonics experiment in Scotland did not get good results on that.

Professor Norman Thomas, Former chief inspector (primary), St Albans.

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