How children should learn to read is an old and intense controversy. Researchers from Royal Holloway University of London and the MRC Cognition and Brain Science Unit wanted to know which is more efficient in learning to read, is it by sounding out words or by guessing whole-word meaning. According to their recently published study, sounding out words – the method called “phonics” – is the best way to teach and learn reading. To an extent that all English-speaking countries would be well inspired to use phonics, as is done in the UK.

“There is a long history of debate over which method, or mix of methods, should be used to teach reading. Some people continue to advocate using a variety of meaning-based cues, such as pictures and sentence context, to guess the meanings of words. However, our research is clear that reading instruction that focuses on teaching the relationship between spelling and sound is most effective. Phonics works,” said Professor Kathy Rastle, from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway.

Picture: The Illustrated Newspaper, by Platt Powell Ryder (Google Art Project, Wikimedia Commons, w/Effects)