Learning to read around the world
Around the world, formal literacy education begins when children are between the ages of 3.5 (Hong Kong) and seven (e.g. Sweden) years. Whereas Chinese reading and writing education often begins with holistic rote memorization of characters, learning to read an alphabet typically begins with instruction on letter names and sounds. Most teachers worldwide adopt a mixture of skills-based learning, focused on the mechanics of the script to be learned, and wholelanguage learning, focused on oral language skills and how print and oral language interact, a way of emphasizing the usefulness and fun of learning to read and write. A mixture of these approaches seems optimal for promoting lasting skills and interest in literacy (for a review, see McBride-Chang 2004).