Phonics: An International Perspective

Phonics is not just a national issue for us here in the UK. Supporting the optimum number of children to read the English language fluently and confidently is an international issue. Although I thought I already had a fair picture of what is happening overseas, since being involved as a member of IFERI I have been amazed at the synergy between our situation and that of so many other countries worldwide. The growing evidence and support internationally for phonics as the key to reading success is so strong. However many other countries also have almost exactly the same issues with ingrained but misinformed and, yes, prejudiced opposition. They too need so many more policy makers, head teachers, teachers and parents (perhaps especially parents) to start to question what they have been led to ‘believe’ about learning to read and start to pay due regard to the actual evidence, no only of research, but of the demonstrated classroom efficacy of high quality phonics practice. We are fortunate in this country that some key national policy makers understand what is needed to get all our children reading. This means that we are well ahead of many other countries in moving towards teaching based on the principle of using phonic decoding as the route to reading unknown words. There are many in other countries who are envious of our position and fully appreciate what is being done. That makes it all the more tragic that there are still large numbers of teaching professionals, and others, in our country who don’t. Please start to look regularly at the IFERI website and see the whole picture for yourself. Gordon Askew

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