Many proponents of ‘whole language’ feel that, since humans learn to speak their native language through immersion, the act of reading follows a similar pattern and exposure to the printed word leads to the development of reading skills. This reasoning bears a false truth value. A great deal of care and attention to detail must accompany reading instruction because reading is quite different from speech.
In speech, the listener is provided with many clues as to the meaning of the words presented by the speaker. Intonation, pitch, cadence, and body language all provide context clues that assist in the comprehension of auditory signals. Further, according to the Innateness Hypothesis, children are equipped with a blueprint for the innate principles and properties that pertain to the grammars of all spoken human language called universal grammar. Barring neurologically-based developmental delays, children do not require explicit instruction to master the spoken language. Universal Grammar aids the child in the task of constructing the “spoken language”. Structure dependency of the native language and coordinate structure constraint are inherent. Additionally, through stages in oral communication, a speaker learns from the surrounding linguistic environment the proper cadence, pitch, and intonation associated with the successful display of language ability, as well as, the rules of grammar that are language specific. This presents speech as a natural process. Read the rest of this entry →