Failures of the Whole Language Approach Persuasive Essay by Nicky

An argument for the phonics approach to reading as opposed to the whole language approach.
# 146685 | 1,314 words | 7 sources | APA | 2011 | US
Published on Jan 12, 2011 in Education (Reading) , Education (Teaching Methods) , Language (General)

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The paper discusses the whole language philosophy and explains how it emphasizes the meaning of text over the sounds of letters. The paper looks at the beliefs of advocates of the whole language approach but reveals that all of its premises have been contradicted by scientific investigations. The paper further relates that legislators in many American states have adopted policies designed to get phonics-based reading programs back into the classroom and strongly contends that the best approach for the overwhelming majority of children is phonics instruction. Finally, the paper outlines Project Follow Through, the largest educational study ever done, and its findings that the teaching method of direct instruction is the most effective.

Learning To Read with Whole Language Ideology
"Whole Language" Faulted for U.S. Reading Woes
Back to Phonics
A Simple Solution
Project Follow Through: The Biggest Educational Study Ever

From the Paper:

"The whole language philosophy advocates teaching children to read by exposing them to whole words in context. It often is described as learning to read in the same way that we learn to talk. It generally avoids phonic pronunciation of each word.
"Teachers of this system emphasize the meaning of text over the sounds of letters. Whole language is considered a "top down" approach where the reader constructs a personal meaning for a text based on using their prior knowledge to interpret the meaning of what they are reading (Reyhner, 2008).
"Whole language is a system that teaches students to look at the big picture and doesn't really give them the tools to understand what they are doing," says Ann Edwards, a 20-year teaching veteran, who is leading a class of first-graders in California (Hanson, 1999, p.2)."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Clowes, G. (2001, February 01). "Whole Language" faulted for U.S. reading woes. Retrieved March 23, 2009, from The Heartland Institute:
  • Hanson, G. (1999, February 08). Whole language, half an education? Retrieved March 23, 2009, from Find Articles at BNET:
  • Jones, J. (n.d.). Learning to read and whole language ideology. Retrieved March 23, 2009, from Parents Raising Educational Standards in Schools:
  • Jones, J. (2004, July 28). What the data really show: Direct instruction really works! Retrieved March 23, 2009, from
  • Reyhner, D. J. (2008, Dec 13). The reading wars. Retrieved March 23, 2009, from Jon Reyhner, Northern Arizona University:

Cite this Persuasive Essay:

APA Format

Failures of the Whole Language Approach (2011, January 12) Retrieved June 07, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Failures of the Whole Language Approach" 12 January 2011. Web. 07 June. 2023. <>