Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Learning to Read with the Whole Language Approach: The Teacher's View

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Learning to Read with the Whole Language Approach: The Teacher's View

Article excerpt

Abstract

This project explores the understanding of early year's teachers regarding whole language approach and its implementation. A total of 200 questionnaires were delivered to teachers at nurseries and kindergartens in an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) context. 169 questionnaires were completed and analysed. The findings shows that an overwhelming majority of the participants know idea of whole language approach and know its value and relevance to improving early year literacy teaching. The result showed that teachers' perspective about literacy teaching clustered primarily in the interactive approach which indicated that most teachers prefer neither whole language approach nor skills based approach.

Keywords: whole language, primary education, literacy

1. Introduction

The whole language approach has in recent times been a very popular and important trend in early childhood education. Researchers of the whole language philosophy hold the view that language should not be broken down into letters or combinations of letters and ordinary understandable message decoded. Instead, they believe that language is a complete system of making meaning, with words functioned in relation to each other in context. Many nurseries even put the whole language approach as one of the important elements in their curriculum design in order to attract more parents when they were looking for early childhood education programmes for their children (Liu, 2006). This study seeks to offer a platform for teachers, educators and researchers to go beyond the superficial realization of the difficulties of putting change into practice. The researcher felt a passionate desire to pursue a study with the primary research purpose of investigating the implementation of the changes to nursery literacy learning and teaching practices. What difficulties had they encountered in terms of integrating the whole language approach into their programmes? Where were the difficulties for teachers in making these changes to practice in nursery classrooms? If why and how do they emerge? These questions represent the key foci of the current study. How to approach these questions is central to the organization and scope of the research.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Whole Language Approach

The whole language proponents claimed that language should not be broken down into letters and combinations of letters and decoded (Stahl & Miller, 1989). Instead, they believe that language is a complete system of making meaning, with words functioning in relation to each other in context (Moats, 2007). Froses (1991, p. 2) defines "whole language" as a:

child centered, literature-based approach to language teaching that immerses students in real communication situations whenever possible.

It also suggests that language is learned from whole to part. Learners are presented with whole and natural language (Bergeron, 1990). The philosophy of whole language approach is complex and draws on fields such as education, linguistics, psychology, sociology, and anthropology (Jeynes & Littell, 2000; Juel & Minden-Cupp, 2000). As Adams claims, whole language movement:

... should be a core component of a long overdue and highly constructive revolution. It should be about restoring the confidence and authority of teachers. It should be an affirmation that education can only be as effective as it is sensitive to the strengths, interests and needs of its students. (Adams, 1991, p. 41)

P. Stanovich and K. Stanovich (1999, p. 29) echo this sentiment:

The way now seems clear for the whole language advocates to reconstitute their position in a scientifically respectable way. They could retain most of their broad socio-educational goal (teacher empowerment, equal opportunity for all learners, engaged learning etc)

2.2 Top-Down Reading Approach to Whole Language Approach

The whole language approach is based on constructivist learning theory and is often considered a top-down model. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.