How Effective Is Phonics Instruction?

April 20, 2017

Comparing and Validating Methods of Reading Instruction Using Behavioural and Neural Findings in an Artificial Orthography

There is a strong evidence base for emphasizing print-to-sound relationships when teaching students to read alphabetic languages. Nevertheless, direct reading instruction methods remain controversial. The results of this study confirm that early literacy instruction is most effective when focused on print-to-sound relationships (phonics) rather than on meaning. The benefits of print-to-sound training were found to be superior to print-to-meaning training for these reasons: (a) Reading aloud trained words learned phonetically was faster and more accurate, (b) generalization in reading aloud untrained words was faster, and (c) comprehension of written words was more accurate earlier in learning. These findings provide additional experimental support for the importance of early phonics instruction. They contradict the argument that phonics teaching does not improve reading for meaning (comprehension).

Citation: Taylor, J. S. H., Davis, M. H., & Rastle, K. (2017, April 20). Comparing and validating methods of reading instruction using behavioural and neural findings in an artificial orthography. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication.