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I've been reading this thread with interest.  Before I came into the
learning assistance fold at the university level, I was first an
elementary bilingual and ESL teacher and then a university-level ESL
instructor.  The constant thread throughout has been an emphasis on
literacy.  I agree with all that was said about ways to modify a
dialect of English to a more standard form, and I wholeheartedly
agree with the need to do so in order that the student might
represent herself well in whatever setting she chooses to enter.

I guess where the conversation began to attract my attention was the
reference to allowing students to write however they choose, never
mind using correct grammar, spelling, etc.  In all my training in
whole language, phonetics, literacy, etc. I never encountered any
authority who said that spelling and grammar should be ignored.
Rather, the literature on invented spellings and whole language
simply shifts the initial emphasis from a focus on the mechanics to a
focus on meaning.  The impetus for doing so was that students were
"word calling" in reading without comprehension, and writing essays
which were executed with good mechanics but which said little.  The
shift was meant to get students communicating and comprehending (the
main purpose of literacy) and THEN to help them to polish up what
they wrote or learn the phonetics for decoding from meaningful text,
not words in isolation.  It may be that not all teachers followed
through with the attention to mechanics, and from that whole language
earned a bad name.  In any case, it seems that a balance must be
brought when any "new" methodology is touted.  Many students benefit
from direct instruction in grammar and phonetics and many students
need a great deal of work with meaning-making whether reading or
writing.  I find the whole language/phonetics controversy unnecessary
and even damaging to the way we teach children to read.

Just my two cents on a Monday morning!  Linda
**********************************************************

Linda S. Evans, Ph.D.
Director, Reading & Learning Program, SVC 2124
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Ave.
Tampa, Florida 33620
phone: 813-974-9308; fax: 813-974-5089
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