Homework Help > Phonics vs Whole Language > Linguistics


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Let Linguistics Help You Decide

When weighing in on Phonics VS Whole language reading, it is important to consider the natural approach to acquiring language.

There is a building block process for language acquisition.  To produce language we first build words using phonemes and morphemes.  Then we string words into sentences using rules of grammar (syntax and semantics).

Your Opinion Please

Is your Elementary 
Aged Child Headed 
for Reading Struggles!

To see a visualization of these definitions click the charts below.

PHONEME—Phonemes Phonemes are the basic building blocks of language.  The smallest units of sound that have NO meaning.  

MORPHEME— Morphemes are the second building blocks of language.   They are the smallest units of sound that CONVEY meaning and are formed when phonemes are combined.

GRAMMAR— Grammar is the third building block of language. It results when phonemes, morphemes, words, and phrases are combined. The proper combinations are formed by correctly using the two components of grammar: syntax and semantics.

  • Syntax—A system of rules for putting words in order.
  • Semantics—A system of using words to create meaning.

Does this all sound too confusing?

It is not meant to.  

Perhaps, the following charts will assist in the visualization of it all. (Click to enlarge.)

Phonics vs Whole Language

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Exclusive Whole Language Instruction

...hinders natural ability

...yields short term results

...creates an atmosphere of frustration.

As you look at the charts, it will become quite evident that English uses phonemes as the basic building blocks of language and then builds upon the foundation as individuals get older and more advanced.

This is a natural progression and no one argues it when it comes to speaking.  

The debate comes about when we try to teach our children to read.  

Wouldn't it just be easier to follow your child’s natural ability to pick up on new reading skills?


Think about it.

Your child learns to say /b/ before she says ‘bat’.  

‘Bat’ lays the foundation for “batter”.  

Finally, she is saying things like, “This cake batter is yummy!”  

Shouldn't she be allowed to explore Reading in such a smooth, natural manner.

Choosing to teach reading with the whole language approach instead of phonemic based (phonics) instruction hinders this natural ability, yields short term results, and creates an atmosphere of frustration.

Whole word reading instruction essentially removes the basic building blocks and, of course, we know that removing the basic building blocks of any structure leaves a wobbly foundation and many foundational gaps. 

This remains true when it comes to your child’s Reading ability.  If she has not been given the proper foundation there will be gaps.

Rest assured, the gaps do not just go away.  They will get wider and wider as the years go by; as the material gets more and more challenging.

You can train/retrain your child with phonics and watch how easy it is for her to reach new levels in the Reading Cycle:

  • PHASE TWO: Reading Comprehension
  • PHASE THREE: Reading Eloquence

If you want to know more about the benefits of phonics vs whole language reading check out the neuroscience of it all.

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Homework Help > Phonics vs Whole Language > Linguistics


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