Language and Phonetics Teaching Methods to Determine Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Language and Phonetics Teaching Methods to Determine Which Is the Most Effective for Teaching Reading to Elementary Students


Method that will be used

Across the nation Americans are demanding new and better methods for the education of their children. One of the most important skills that is taught is the skill of reading. This paper will presents a study proposal to determine what the best method to teach reading is. The paper will open with an introduction to the importance of the skill of reading and the importance of teaching it well in the elementary years. It will then move into a statement of the problem which will address what the core problem is regarding the subject of the study.

In this case it is the fact that the nation's school system has used two different methods for the instruction of reading to elementary school students over the past few decades, often switching mid school career for some students. The paper will discuss why this switching back and forth can have a negative impact on the students' learning abilities. In addition the paper will address the importance of discovering which reading skill method is better between whole language and phonetics. The paper will use a literature review to strengthen the argument for this timely study because it will provide a blueprint for study's conclusion and its importance. The paper will discuss the proposed participants, methodology and other factors involved in a research study of this type. The conclusion will pull the elements of the paper together and provide proof that this study is a timely and needed one.


One of the most important tasks that elementary institutions are charged with is the task of teaching students how to read. If a student knows how to read proficiently that student can participate in learning all other academic subjects. Reading is involved in almost all academic areas of education. The skill of reading is also useful and necessary outside of the school setting. Reading is needed in almost all aspects and areas of life including cooking, hobbies, traveling and most careers and jobs. A student who knows how to read well is able to choose and research areas that interest them whether or not those areas are going to be addressed through the course of their classroom education setting. Students who know how to read can better advocate for themselves inside as well as outside of the classroom when it comes to things that interest them. The ability to read has a positive impact on almost all aspects of a student's life in elementary school and for the remainder of the student's life. Because of the importance of reading it is essential to develop the most accurate and broad-based successful method for teaching the skill to elementary students. Throughout the history of the American Public School System different methods of teaching reading to elementary students have been embraced and discarded at various times. The basic phonetic system is one by which many schools and millions of students are taught to read each day, but there is also something called whole language learning that has been tried and embraced at various times of the school system's history. In addition there are times and systems that have incorporated both of these techniques or several others in the effort to provide the most solid basis for learning the skill of reading at the elementary school age level.

Across the nation school systems have switched back and forth among various methods of teaching reading to elementary students and the result is a nation of adolescents who are at many varying levels of reading comprehension and speed abilities. This paper is for a proposal for a research study regarding the best methods for teaching reading to elementary school aged students. The proposal outlines the study methodology that can be used as well as a literature review of pertinent published studies already conducted on relevant topics to this study.

Statement of the problem/hypothesis

There are many methods of teaching students in elementary school how to read. There are schools of thought as to whether it is better to try the phonetic approach or the whole language approach. School districts across the nation alternate between these and other methods while the students are caught in the middle with changing skill sets and confusion.

The time has come to determine which reading method is the most successful for the elementary students around the nation. Without this understanding it is difficult to standardize the teaching of reading skills. This creates problems with the students who move within the state as well as to other states. In addition the upper grades such as middle school, high school and college are struggling to meld the various methods that have been used on the students they inherit.

Students who are taught to read with varying methods may have different academic levels of abilities as they move through the elementary school years. Students who do not use one method might find that they are missing key elements of the skill sets required for the purpose of reading as well. The problem becomes magnified as districts, parents and teachers argue over what method is the most effective and which one should be used. Many districts have alternated between several styles of teaching reading.

This can happen in a matter of years, which ultimately can cause confusion for the students who have to switch gears, styles and skills with the new methods the district adopts. The American public has been demanding improvements in education for several years, and this study can pave the way to determine the most effective and successful way to teach reading as well as allow the standardization of its implementation as well. To be able to choose which method is the best it is important to know which one is more successful. This study will answer the question as to whether phonetics or whole language is the best method for teaching reading to elementary school students.


There have been many studies on the teaching of reading to elementary school students. One such study tested the success and importance of phonetical processing abilities and their impact on early reading skills (Wagner, 1994). "As the term is used by those who study early reading development, phonological processing refers to an individual's mental operations that make use of the phonological or sound structure of oral language when he or she is learning how to decode written language. The last 20 years of research have produced a broad variety of converging evidence that at least three kinds of phonological processing skills are positively related to individual differences in the rate at which beginning reading skills are acquired (Wagner, 1994) The kinds of phonological processing skills and knowledge that have been most frequently studied include phonological awareness, phonological memory, and rate of access for phonological information (Wagner, 1994)."

The study ascertained that the ability to be sensitive to phonetic changes in words provides the cornerstone for the phonetic teaching of reading to young elementary students around the nation.

The study was formulated and performed for the purpose of measuring reading skills as related to the teaching of reading through the use of phonetics. "Also required was a more sophisticated measurement technology than had been available prior to our project, coupled with assessment of all three major areas of phonological skill (Wagner, 1994)."

The study provided evidence that early phonetic ability did in fact contribute to early reading ability however one of the drawbacks of the study is that it only studied phonetics and did not compare it to any other methods of teaching reading to elementary students.

This study did leave researchers with an understanding that phonetic sensitivity does not work with all students and for learning disabled students it can create a challenge in the grasp of reading skills (Blachman, 1994).

This study examined the effects of curriculum on the sensitivity of repeated curriculum-based measurement (CBM). Participants included 24 third-grade students who were instructed primarily in a literature- based Scott, Foresman basal series, and 24 third-grade students who were instructed primarily in a more traditional basal series (Shapiro, 1994). CBM passage probes from each basal reading series were administered to all students twice weekly over a 9-week period. Each student's rate of progress in each reading series was indexed using an ordinary least squares regression to determine the slope of the data series. Results suggested that passage probes selected from the literature-based basal series were less sensitive to indexing growth over time than those from the traditional basal series." This study concluded among other things that the measurable success of reading skills among elementary school students does in fact have something to do with the style and method used to teach the skill of reading (Shapiro, 1994).

Another study tried to determine how early readers occur. When one hears of preschool aged children reading and comprehending words one wonders what the…

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