Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Review - the Pleasure and the Pain of Phonics: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Review - the Pleasure and the Pain of Phonics: News

Article excerpt

"Jane and Peter. Peter and Jane. Jane likes Peter. Peter likes Jane." The reader pauses. "Very unusual for siblings."

Peter and Jane, whose zen-like existence of being, liking and dog-having will be familiar to most readers of a certain age, have been resurrected as part of Reading Between the Lines, a two-part documentary on BBC Radio 4.

This June, all Year 1 children will be tested for the first time on their ability to read words phonetically. The programme, therefore, explores the government's decision to emphasise synthetic phonics as the solution to the country's reading ills.

"My starting point is the nagging sense of a crisis about the standard of children's reading across Britain today," says the presenter, children's author Michael Morpurgo. "Does such a crisis really exist?"

What is gratifying about this programme is that it goes beyond the obvious wheeling out of "20 per cent of pupils starting secondary school are functionally illiterate" shock figures. (Not without wheeling them out first, obviously. But, hey.)

It goes on to take a little jaunt through the practicalities of phonics. Learning to read phonetically allows children to split unfamiliar words into their con-stit-u-ent parts, and thus still read them. Unfortunately, this is no use at all for many words in the English language. Try sounding out "physiognomy" phonically. Or, indeed, "phonically".

Technically, the first programme is an examination of the pros and cons of phonics, and the second a history of literacy teaching. …

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.