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3 thoughts on “GUEST POSTS

  1. Dear VAS Team — I love your blog! It cuts to the chase in a no-nonsense way…

    I hope you don’t mind me telling about my new approach to English reading:

    I am a linguist in the U.S., and have been working on a way to teach reading where the simplest possible phonics/phonetic generalizations are extracted from the data (actual spelling of English), and then incorporated into ordered lessons: starting with those generalizations without exceptions, and starting with all monosyllabic words.

    It turns out that when you look at the problem of English reading in this way, things are a little bit simpler than what is generally assumed…it appears that there is room for improvement in WHAT is being taught, even if we agree that phonics is crucial!

    Right now I am working on the adult version (for immigrants), but the exact same approach would work for children learning to read for the first time, I believe…basically this approach means that there is less to teach when teaching reading. If interested, check out my website

    Best, Anne Vainikka

  2. The chickens come home to roost.

    Let me see if I have got this right: Last month the nation’s first audit of what is being taught in teacher training colleges accused NSW academics of following social ideologies rather than research. They also accused the universities of failing to prepare teachers for class teaching. That finding came against a background that last year Australia was found to have the lowest literacy levels of any English-speaking country in the world. (Tasmania’s reading levels are even worse than those of NSW). But this whistle blowing did not come from our universities, it came from overseas research. Australian universities in fact denied there was a problem and failed to detect the decline in national reading standards by the simple expedient of not testing phonic sounding-out skills for 11 years (and counting) despite it being unanimously recommended by national inquiries in Britain, USA and Australia.
    But the history of academic malpractice goes back even further because Australian academics replaced the traditional phonic training with whole word guessing strategies four years AFTER whole word guessing had been found to be one of the worst ways of teaching children to read.

    Self-reform is unlikely: the NSW universities adopted the attitude that nobody tells them what to do and refused to fully cooperate with the audit. And what does the university now propose? That a panel (presumably of academics) will shortly select a professor (another academic who may never have taught beginner readers) to investigate yet again why Tasmanian academics can’t teach teachers how to teach.
    The good news is that my chicken coop needs another coat of whitewash …it appears there’s plenty on offer.

    Byron Harrison
    VAS Research
    10 Swift Place
    Kingston 7050


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