I’m just trying to get some discussions going here. I can see I have a lot of readers, but not much conversing is going on. I would love to see more of that, and some honest batting around of ideas might just toss me a bit of good info! So, here goes the first topic:
Just a couple days back I talked about learning to read by learning to write. It got me thinking about the how of reading and writing. It’s clear that reading and writing are directly linked. At the very least, in order to have something to read, something must have first been written down. You really can’t have reading without writing. At the same time, there’s no point in writing if no one knows how to read it. It just becomes pointless scratches on paper.
That being said, how do people learn to read? I’m not talking memorizing a few words and being able to recognize them. I mean how do people learn to decode written text, to expand their known words? How do they learn to break down and pronounce the unfamiliar words they encounter? There must be a way to understand how it happens, and more importantly, how it doesn’t.
Obviously phonics is the magic decoder ring that teaches everyone how to decode new words, it comes with all these rules that used to drive me crazy as a kid. I didn’t understand why things didn’t always get written as they sound. In my mind, phonetic spelling would imply it was spelled using the rules of phonics, but that never seemed to ne the case.
More importantly, can kids learn to decode unfamiliar words by learning to sight read? I’m pretty certain they can learn to sight read by copy work? In theory, if someone were to write a word enough times and build the mental association, they would learn to recognize it by sight. Or is something deeper going on here? By constructing the words over and over a letter at a time can someone learn phonics in a subtle, natural way? Will they learn to sound out the letters and combinations as they write, making it sound like saying the word in slow motion as it’s written? Wouldn’t that build phonics skills, not sight reading vocabulary?
More importantly, isn’t one of the eventual goals of reading to see a word and instantly know it? Isn’t that sight reading? And you only default to phonics when entering the domain of an unfamiliar word?
In theory it would seem like it’s perfectly possible to learn reading from first learning to write, in other words, from copy work? In other words, you can’t learn to write by learning to read, but you can learn to read by first learning to write. If that’s the case, why not tackle both at once and start with writing?
What do you think? Can writing and copy work lead to learning how to read? Is it better to learn to read first, then apply that knowledge to crafting your words? Is one way really better or are they both equally as good?