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Reconsidering the evidence that systematic phonics is more effective than alternative methods of reading instruction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Early online date8 Jan 2020
DateAccepted/In press - 13 Dec 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 8 Jan 2020


There is a widespread consensus in the research community that reading instruction in English should first focus on teaching letter (grapheme) to sound (phoneme) correspondences rather than adopt meaning-based reading approaches such as whole language instruction. That is, initial reading instruction should emphasize systematic phonics. In this systematic review I show this conclusion is not justified based on (a) an exhaustive review of 12 meta-analyses that have assessed the efficacy of systematic phonics, (b) summarizing the outcomes of teach-ing systematic phonics in all state schools in England since 2007. The failure to obtain evi-dence in support of systematic phonics should not be taken as an argument in support of whole language and related methods, but rather, it highlights the need to explore alternative approaches to reading instruction.

    Research areas

  • phonics, whole language, systematic phonics, Structured Word Inquiry

    Structured keywords

  • Language
  • Cognitive Science

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