How's it Different from Whole Language?

And will you succeed?
Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed

Dr. Seuss

On this phonics page you will find:

Can you read this: chocolate %*@@*?#

If you have had phonics, the first word is easy because you have learned how to decode the word.

The second word however, is not decodable because you don't know the code for the symbols. If you knew that % is the symbol for d and # is the symbol for t, would the word be decodable? What is it?


There are two kinds of phonics: implicit and explicit.

Explicit teaches letter sounds first and then blends those sounds together into a whole word. This is also known as sequential or systematic. 

An implicit program works from the whole word and then breaks it down into the smaller part. This is also known as whole language.

Let's look at the word chocolate. By the whole language approach, the student would be expected to see the word, memorize it and then know it when reading it in a phrase or sentence. Then he would learn how to break it into syllables and then into individual sounds.


Let's look at the word chocolate again. First the child needs to know the consonant and short vowel sounds. Then he would learn about the silent e syllable late. Third he would have learned how to divide words.

Once he has learned all of these decoding skills, he would be able to read the word chocolate. He wouldn't be able to figure out the second word until he had learned what the symbols meant.


What is best? Explicit phonics is BEST because it works from the piece to the whole. The student no longer has to rely on guessing what the word may be. For the student with a learning disability, explicit phonics is a MUST.

The sequential/systematic approach should be used with any student learning to read. For the student with learning disabilities, using decodable books is ESSENTIAL.

The words in these books follow a sequential systematic pattern. The book won't have any words that the student hasn't learned. Each book builds upon the previous sounds taught. For more about decodable books, click here.

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If you haven't figured out what these symbols, %*@@*?#, spell after the word chocolate, let me give you some more hints.

% = d      * = e       =s       ? = r       # = t

The word is dessert. Words are easy once we know the code.

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