Teaching Reading Skills Effectively An Enquiry and Its Implications Publication date : February 25, 2015
Jérôme Deauvieau is a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Versailles.
Janine Reichstadt is an honorary professor in philosophy at the Lycée and at the Teacher Training College of Créteil.
Jean-Pierre Terrail is a sociologist of education.
Why do 20% of French students leave the school system experiencing ‘great difficulties in understanding the written language’? What is the most effective way of teaching reading skills? Is there one method that really is ‘the best’, regardless of teachers’ familiarity with it and skill in teaching it? The controversy has scarcely abated since the invention, in the early twentieth century, of the ‘global’ method that advocates the visual memorisation of whole words. The debate has been particularly heated since the 1970s, when a major shake-up in pedagogical ideas and practice discredited the old syllabic method that had prevailed till then.
Today, the syllabic method, regarded as an emblem of backward-looking pedagogical and political ideas, is used only by 10% of teachers, while most prefer to use what are known as ‘mixed’ methods. Yet the debate is far from over, since these ‘mixed’ methods have yielded poor results.
In this context, and to put an end to doctrinaire arguments and sterile discussions, Jérôme Deauvieau has made the first comparative evaluation of reading skills in French schools by testing pupils, at the end of the first year of elementary school, who have been taught to read using different methods. The results of the enquiry, and the interest it elicited, urged the three authors of this book to present their statistical evaluations with their prudent conclusions regarding the choice of reading methods.
• An important work for schoolteachers, parents and tutors, as well as for instructors in adult literacy programmes.
• How to teach reading skills remains a controversial subject.