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December 05, 2005

Back to Basics in Britain, Australia

There was an interesting column in The Times yesterday for anyone who teaches young children or is interested in phonics. The British government recently announced that schoolchildren are to return to the traditional method of learning to read by "synthetic phonics." The move follows an inquiry into the effectiveness of various teaching methods which found that synthetic phonics is by far the most successful. The method begins by teaching children letter sounds, an approach that is used by many native teachers of English here in Japan, but has been out of favor in the British public system for a generation.

A separate article in The Age describes how the Australian education system is moving in the same direction. According to the article, "a literacy inquiry will recommend that all children learn the phonics system as the basis of reading." It also mentions that the National Reading Panel in the US has pushed for explicit phonics programs.
The Times: Read my lips, Mr Peacock: phonics work
Sound schooling gets nod for basic skills
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