In his excellent letter John Griffiths says that children with profound hearing andor speech impairment can be taught to read, but not by using phonics (TES, November 29).
I should like to broaden that and suggest that phonics works only when children have an extensive listeningspeaking vocabulary and good hearing and speech. Phonics is a transfer process and if there is nothing from which to transfer, or if the transfer mechanisms are faulty, then phonics will not work.
Yet some teachers are still trying, and failing, to teach children with Down's syndrome, who have little or no speech, to read using phonics dogma although many have learnt to read with great benefit to their language development by ignoring it.
Wimstone, Green Lane
Ilsington, Newton Abbot