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What Does a "Balanced Literacy Approach" Mean? [microform] : Topics in Early Reading Coherence / Sebastian Wren
Bib ID 5686259
Format BookBook, MicroformMicroform, OnlineOnline
Wren, Sebastian
Online Versions
Description [Washington, D.C.] : Distributed by ERIC Clearinghouse, 2001 
7 p. 

The phonics and whole language approaches reflect very different underlying philosophies of reading instruction and stress very different skills. The philosophy underlying the whole language approach is that reading is a natural process, much like learning to speak, and that children exposed to a great deal of authentic, connected text will naturally become literate without much explicit instruction. The philosophy underlying the phonics approach is quite different--phonics advocates argue that most children require a great deal of explicit instruction in the rules of printed text to learn to read. This paper describes the way the two approaches work in the classroom setting and discusses the "reading wars"--the debate (which has been raging for many years) over which is the best approach to teach children to read. The paper then considers the balanced approach to literacy, opining that neither phonics nor whole language is a particularly effective method to teach reading. It states that most people do not agree on what the term "balanced approach" means or how it is accomplished in the classroom. The paper concludes that rather than picking the best elements from the phonics and whole language approaches, it seems sensible to ask what information about reading and reading instruction has been supported by research, and move forward from there. It notes that research in reading is providing knowledge about approaches and understanding that neither "camp" was able to provide. (NKA)


Availability: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 211 E. 7th St., Austin, TX 78701-3281. Tel: 800-476-6861 (Toll Free). Web site: For full text:

May also be available online. Address as at 14/8/18:

Reproduction Microfiche. [Washington D.C.]: ERIC Clearinghouse microfiches : positive. 
Subjects Beginning Reading.  |  Comparative Analysis.  |  Phonics.  |  Primary Education.  |  Reading Instruction.  |  Whole Language Approach.  |  Balanced Reading Instruction  |  Southwest Educational Development Laboratory
Form/genre Opinion Papers.
Other authors/contributors Southwest Educational Development Lab., Austin, TX
Available From ERIC 


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