The main reasons for reading problems are:
1. Ineffective reading instruction
2. Auditory perception difficulties
3. Visual perception difficulties
4. Language processing difficulties
Over 180 research studies to date have proven that phonics is the BEST WAY to teach reading to all students. They also have shown that phonics is the ONLY WAY to teach reading to students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.
Unfortunately, 80% of our nations schools do not use an intensified phonics approach for reading instruction. They either use the whole word (see & say) approach or a cursory use of phonics along with the whole word method.
While most people can learn to read using the whole word approach, it is not the best way to learn. It teaches through memorization of word pictures and guessing. Unlike Chinese or Japanese which are picture languages, the English language is a phonetic language. With the exception of the United States which dropped phonics in the 1930's, all other countries that have a phonetic language, teach reading through phonics.
There are only 44 sounds while there are about 1 million words in English. These facts readily explain why having to memorize 44 sounds as opposed to memorizing hundreds of thousands of words is the most efficient way to learn to read.
Reading and writing is simply "talking on paper." Children learn to talk by imitating sounds and then combining the sounds to form words. The brain is programmed to learn language in this fashion. Therefore, the most efficient way to learn to read is through phonics because it teaches children to read the same way they learned to talk.
Children and adults who do not learn to read through an intensive phonics program often have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Below grade level reading achievement
- Slow reading
- Poor comprehension
- Fatigue after reading only for a short while
- Poor spelling skills
- Lack of enjoyment from reading
Some children have auditory discrimination problems. This may have been the result of having chronic ear infections when they were young. Others may be born with this learning disability. Correction involves educational exercises to train the brain in discrimination and to over teach the formation of the sounds used in speaking and reading.
Another group of children have visual perception problems. They may actually reverse letters or words. They have difficulty matching the word image on the page with a previously stored image in their brain. Exercises that train the brain to "see" more accurately may help but instruction with phonics is the best approach to overcome this problem.
Language development problems can contribute to poor reading and listening comprehension along with difficulty in verbal and written expression. Learning appropriate word attack skills through phonics along with special help in receptive and/or expressive language skills improves this type of learning disability