Reading Approaches Of Bottom Up And Top Down

3703 words - 15 pages

Reading Approaches of Bottom-up and Top-down

The main two approaches to reading, top-down and bottom-up have
produced a great debate towards which is the best approach to teach
children to read. Top down reading is also known as the whole
language approach in which the meaning of the text relies upon the
reader’s background knowledge and his/her use of prediction to
anticipate the meaning of the text.
(http://www.sedl.org/reading/topics/balanced.html [23.10.01]). The
bottom-up approach to reading involves the use of phonics and the
decoding of text, word by word after which meaning and understanding
will follow (http://www.sedl.org/reading/topics/balanced.html
[23.10.01]). Phonics is referred to a method of teaching children to
read by relating certain letters or sequences of letters with certain
sounds (R.L. Trusk, 1997, p.168). Phonics involves mastering the
alphabetic principle by learning the grapheme-phoneme correspondence
rules (rules of relating letters or groups of letters to sounds). A
grapheme is a small unit of written language, whereas a phoneme is a
small unit of spoken language (Beard, 1993, p.63). Margaret Cooper
informs us that we have approximately 44 speech sounds but we have
only 26 letters which can represent them, this presents the complexity
of the English alphabetic system (Cooper, 1996, p.34). However, Jane
Oakhill comments that mastering the alphabetic principle leads
children to independent reading (Beard, 1993, p.63). Jenny Curtis (in
her article, phonics v. whole language, which is better?) informs us
that whole language, unlike phonics, is not so focussed on rules and
repetition. (http://www.superkids.com/aweb/pages/features/reading/phonics.shtml
[23.10.01]). The aim is to assess the prospects of the balancing of
these two approaches and to decide whether the student will become a
successful reader as a result of balancing these approaches. Let us
first examine the positive contributions and limitations of each
approach.

Goodman, (1971) a top-down theorist, describes reading as a
pscholinguistic guessing game (p.135) and he stresses that readers
benefit by making predictions from their knowledge to understand
their reading (Goodman, 1973 in Carrell, 1988a) (http://langue.hyper.chubu.ac.jp/jalt/pub/tlt/99/jan/frehan.html
[16.10.01]). Paul Abraham, in his article Field Notes states that the
bottom-up approach in comparison does not recognise what students can
contribute to the reading material. (http://www.sabes.org/f02abrah.htm
[16.10.01]) Padraic Frehan of the British Council English school of
Tokyo comments that the bottom-up approach reveals problems like
fragmentation of words and overload of memory due to keeping a lot of
separate bits of information in the mind without any higher order
connection between the separate pieces of...

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