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.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today