chapter  1
38 Pages

Grapheme–Phoneme Knowledge Is Essential for Learning to Read Words in English

Currently there is much interest in the question of how children learn to read, particularly as a result of debates about whether instruction should follow phonics or whole-language prescriptions. The purpose of my chapter is to sidestep the instructional issue, to focus on the learner rather than the teacher, and to clarify how alphabetic processes are central in learning to read words as indicated by theory and evidence. Research on this topic is too extensive to cover fully in this chapter. I have dealt with this problem by mentioning limited evidence to support my claims with the belief that this evidence is representative of and not contradicted by the larger pool of evidence. (For a more complete picture, see Adams', 1990, book, Beginning to Read.)

In my chapter, I argue that grapheme-phoneme knowledge, also referred to as alphabetic knowledge, is essential for literacy acquisition to reach a mature state. It is important to include spelling as well as reading in this picture, because learning to read and learning to spell words in English depend on processes that are tightly interconnected (Ehri, 1997). As the chapter unfolds, the nature of this connection becomes apparent.