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The Pss Approach To Reading: Solution To The Reading Wars

1476 words - 6 pages

The National Curriculum Framework 2005 includes the section Learning to Read and Write under the head Language and thus it is important to analyze briefly how early literacy as a part of language education in schools has been dealt with in the NCF. It says that speech, listening, reading and writing are the four communicative skills (NCF, 2005, p.40) essential for children to succeed in school. Instead of making the students sit quietly in classrooms, their speech should be looked upon as a way of expression and group-discussions among them should be encouraged. Listening ability teaches them to be attentive, respect each other’s opinions and interpret what is being said in different ways. ...view middle of the document...

Thus reading and writing aptitude has been stressed upon from the beginning of schooling in order to ensure that all students gain mastery over them. As I mentioned above, there exists confusion among educators about the approach to teach reading. This debate between phonics-based reading instructions and whole language approach is not new and there are many arguments made in favour or against for both of these methods in the education field.
Phonics is a bottom-up approach for teaching children to read and spell words. In this method, the language is broken down into small components. It is a set of rules taught to students so that they can apply them while sounding out new words. It emphasizes that students should be able to speak the words out loud based on the way they are spelled. It is decoding the text by recognizing the sound-letter correspondence. This is where the difference between the scripts of English language and Indian languages emerges.
The English writing system consists of 26 alphabets and has sounds more than this, i.e., it does not have one-to-one correspondence between letter and sound. This is called as an opaque writing system. There are multiple spellings for the same sound, for example, too, two, to; be, bee; red, read (past tense), etc. There are combinations of two letters to make one sound which again sound different in different words, for example: break, appeal; toast, abroad, etc. Thus, it is not possible to decode the vast amount of vocabulary in English language by applying a definite set of rules of phonics. Indian languages on the other hand have a script in which each letter corresponds to only one sound, i.e., one letter has only one corresponding sound and one sound has only one corresponding letter. This is a transparent writing system. Hence, it is easier to implement the phonic method to teach reading in Indian languages as compared to English.
The Pragat Shikshan Sanstha Approach to reading is an attempt to use this feature of Indian language (in this case, Marathi) to make it simple for children to learn reading. In this approach, phonemic consciousness is considered to be the first essential part for learning. Children are first introduced to familiar words relating to the objects/people they see around and are repeatedly asked to say them loud with emphasis on the pronunciation of each syllable of the word, for example the sound of ‘m’, ‘ma’, ‘k’ and finally ‘d’ in ‘makad’. Thus students realize that each word has small components which are associated with different sounds. Once the children are able to read and say the words correctly, they are taught how to write the letters and then the words which they form together. They are made to sense with touch how the letters are written by using objects like tamarind seeds to form the letter and then they move their hands over it again and again. This helps them in remembering how to write the letters. After this, they are introduced with words and...

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