Not half as barking as the 'experts'

4th April 1997 at 01:00
Stewart Deuchar's assertion that research proves the value of phonics and the irrelevance of real books (TES, March 21) cannot go unchallenged.

He is, presumably, referring to studies such as the Californian research you reported last month (TES February 21) into the alleged effectiveness of phonics (or should we say fonix?).

The proof that phonics is best is apparently that children taught by this method can read aloud from a list of 50 words picked by the fonix obsessives.

I have met too many children taught by the phonics method who can decode an entire page of a story from print to sound with absolutely no idea of what the story is about. They read, surprise, surprise, as if they are reading a list aloud.

We usually use the term "barkers" (as in barking at text) to describe such disadvantaged readers. It strikes me, however, that barking might be more appropriately deployed as a description of those who genuinely believe that reciting a meaningless list is a fair test of ability to read.

GRAHAM SMITH 18 Cedars Avenue London.

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