Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is the Whole Language Approach Behind Dyslexia?

The New American's Sam Blumenfeld thinks so — Dr. Seuss and Dyslexia. The author quotes a researcher whom he says "discovered that when preschoolers memorize as sight words the entire texts of such popular books as Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, they develop a block against seeing the words phonetically and thus become 'dyslexic,'" continuing,
    They become sight readers with a holistic reflex rather than phonetic readers with a phonetic reflex. A holistic reader looks at each word as a little picture, a configuration, much like a Chinese ideograph, and tries to think of the word it represents. A phonetic reader associates letters with sounds and can sound out the syllabic units that blend into an articulated word.

    What this means is that parents should teach their children to read phonetically before giving them the Dr. Seuss books to read. They should avoid having their children memorize words by their configurations alone, because once that mode of viewing words becomes an automatic reflex, it will create a block against phonics.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share


Blogger Dauvit Balfour said...

I've heard this idea before and it makes some sense to me.

I wonder how the mind actually develops the ability to read. Phonics is a great approach, I think, but once you have learned to read, you neevr sunod out the wrods but mreley raed them as erinte ojbcets.

Admittedly, muddling up the interior letters of a word slows down the reading, probably in proportion to how far each letter is from its original position. Still, it's a curious problem, and makes me want to study neuro-linguistics. (That's gotta be a field, right? If it's not it should be.)

If I remember correctly, the See/Say method was developed to teach deaf kids how to read. For that it may be fine, but I'll take phonics.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Baron Korf said...

My experience is the reverse. I learned to be a sight reader and my wife learned phonetics. I tear through text at high speeds, and she is profoundly dyslexic.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


Who do you spopuse wulod hvae a mroe dficlufit tmie rndeaig tihs cmonmet, a htolisic radeer or a pohtniec rdeaer?

10:43 PM  
Blogger island breezes said...

My partially deaf son had difficulty reading until we intensified his phonetics... because he had a different idea of what the words he was using actually sounded like! His reading and spelling jumped three grade levels, as soon as he had it sorted out. As a homeschool parent, my concept of whole language is to use every tool available to help the reader read and comprehend quickly and well.

12:41 AM  
Blogger love the girls said...


I learned phonetically and am dyslexic. I never intentionally memorized any word, and when I read sound out all words in my head reading phonetically silently.

Further, it certainly looks genetic to me because my siblings likewise are dyslexic with one brother severely hampered by it.

Of course, one learns to live with it, although I still continually reverse words, numbers and such which is annoying, and strange sounding out numbers and in turn watching oneself write them in reverse order.

1:40 AM  
Blogger love the girls said...

Embrethiliel writes : "Who do you spopuse wulod hvae a mroe dficlufit tmie rndeaig tihs cmonmet, a htolisic radeer or a pohtniec rdeaer?"

I don't know the answer, but I read the sentence phonetically at a normal rate unthinkingly correcting the words as I went. Of course, I'm a very slow reader, but nevertheless.

1:49 AM  
Blogger Flying red fruit said...

I think this is ridiculous. While this idea would cause reading difficulty short-term, it is not true dyslexia. In true dyslexia words and letters literally change in appearance, not because they are similar but because of how the dyslexic mind may interpret the letters and words. It is impossible to 'become' truly dyslexic, even though you might have problems reading at some points in your life.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

love the girls & Flying red fruit,

If you were to take the time to read the actual article, Blumenfield explicitly distinguishes between neurological dyslexia, which he claims is usually associated with very early symptoms, and educational dyslexia, which begins to be more noticeable in later grades as reading demands begin to outstrip the student's sight-word facility; whatever the merits or demerits of Blumenfield's claim, he's not claiming that all dyslexia is educational, but that there are fewer cases of real, i.e., neurological, dyslexia than are usually thought.

10:25 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.