It's for everything mentioned in my first post and any other comparison of different pedagogical methods that you would like to make. I have not been able to post here recently because not enough time.
The French Ministry of Education has announced that the methode globale
(the French term for whole language method) will no longer be used to teach reading in schools and as of September 2006, teachers will be required to used synthetic phonics to teach children to read. What is more, some French educators are saying that in order for the phonics method to be effective, it has to be taught earlier
, as often by the time a child is 6 years old, they no longer learn to associate sounds with a letter as well (something about learning phonemes and learning speech and the association of the two but I am not a professional educator so don't really know the lingo so well).
Anyway, now there is this experiment going on in Savoie, France, in which a class of 5-year old kindergarteners are being taught to read within one week using synthetic phonics. This is to demonstrate to the Ministry of Education that reading should begin in kindergarten and not in grade one as is now. The state channel, France 2, is televising it.
I personally do not understand why phonics would not be used as the basis of reading in a language that uses letters to represent sounds, at its base. If it were Chinese, that would be another matter but to me, starting with looking at whole words makes no sense in English. And I still don't see why one cannot teach phonics and at the same time use stories, poems and nursery rhymes to enhance reading comprehension. My impression is that the whole language approach throws the baby out with the bath water. A child might be able to comprehend what she is reading should she come across words and sentences she recognizes, but if she is not able to decode a word, she has not mastered reading.