Why do some children learn to read without explicit teaching?

Jennifer Buckingham, Anne Castles

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Learning to read in an alphabetic language such as English is a complex task and, for most children, requires explicit teaching. In particular, an extensive body of research has demonstrated that, in the initial stages of learning to read, children benefit from systematic teaching about the connections between letters and sounds, known as phonics. Phonics knowledge allows children to work out how to say printed words for themselves and, if those words are in their oral vocabulary, to understand them. This initial learning provides the foundation children need to begin to read on their own, and so further build their fluency and text comprehension. Potentially challenging the idea that basic reading skills must be taught explicitly are reports of children who learn to read even before commencing school, and who do so without direct teaching and with apparently little effort. How do these children achieve this, and what implications does it have for how reading should be taught in schools? To answer these questions, we need to consider these children's reading behaviours against the backdrop of what is known about how the brain learns to read.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)18-20
    Number of pages3
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


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