In my last post, I mentioned that Dr. Neil J. Anderson, world-renowned second language reading expert, spoke at the Reading Horizons Distributor Seminar in Salt Lake City, Utah, on July 15, 2010. Since I work for Reading Horizons, and since I know Dr. Anderson personally, he asked me before the seminar my opinion on what topic he should address. As we discussed possible topics, I was reminded of the perpetual need to establish and promote the important role that systematic phonics instruction plays in an English Language Learner's education. Thus, his presentation was entitled, "The Five Reasons Why English Language Learners Benefit from Systematic Phonics Instruction." The five reasons he discussed, each supported by research, include:
1. There are English decoding rules so why not explicitly teach them?
2. Reading fluency increases as learners have strong decoding skills.
3. Oral reading improves when learners can correctly decode the words.
4. Spelling improves when learners have strong decoding skills.
5. Motivation and confidence increase when learners read well.
An additional point Dr. Anderson made includes the fact that "teacher training is absolutely essential to successful implementation of systematic phonics instruction."
I noticed some similarities between Dr. Anderson's points and some points I've made in previous blog posts, including the posts entitled "The Effects of Teaching Phonics to ELLs/ESOL Students" and "Why Phonics for ELLs/ESOL Students?". It is good to have ideas reinforced by triangulating these ideas with other sources.
I can't emphasize more the important role that phonics plays in an English Language Learner's education. Reading affects all areas of a student's education. With instruction in explicit, systematic phonics instruction, I have witnessed increased decoding, fluency, comprehension, spelling, and pronunciation skills, along with increased vocabulary, confidence, and motivation, in my own students who learn English as an additional language.