Place of phonics in teaching dyslexics

3rd October 2008 at 01:00

Contrary to your article "Phonics fails dyslexics, says head" (TES, September 26), a letter-sound method, when properly taught, can be extremely successful for teaching dyslexic learners.

Dr Neville Brown's methods are effective and Dyslexia Action acknowledges the value of morphology and uses it to give an understanding of how words work. But most dyslexic pupils learn happily with letters and sounds.

We know most dyslexic learners will respond to phonics if delivered at the right pace and with the right amount of repetition, rehearsal, and an understanding of how to use syllable division and suffixing rules. It is important to stress that while morphology is effective, the use of phonics with dyslexic learners should not be dismissed. In our experience, the two should not be mutually exclusive. Both ways of understanding how words work are important for good, confident literacy skills.

The biggest barrier to teaching special educational needs pupils is a lack of expertise within the system. Dyslexia Action is working to improve knowledge of the needs of children with dyslexia through initial teacher training and continuing professional development.

Shirley Cramer, Chief executive officer, Dyslexia Action, Surrey.

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