The Nation


Letters to the Editor

Education Ministry hasn't done its homework

I cannot understand why myopic Education Ministry "experts" insist on imposing the good old, bad old methodology for teaching English rather than adopting a fresh and common-sense child-focused approach.

I wholeheartedly recommend the national introduction of synthetic phonics to speed up educational reform in both English and Thai. When we encounter a foreign language, our natural tendency is to hear it in terms of our own native language.

Synthetic phonics - defined as teaching letter-sound relationships in explicit, organised patterns - is a powerful tool for children to master critical reading skills. By encouraging learners and giving them self-confidence, phonics provides a leg up in listening and speaking by sounding out words and sounds in a sequence, followed by blends (bl-, st-, cr-). Reading is all about comprehension, with word recognition taught before spelling, putting together small elements to make a larger whole.

Recent research supports the belief that intensive and systematic phonics-teaching underpins and reinforces reading, spelling and writing skills. The outdated Bangkok-centric education system is drastically in need of an overhaul to decentralise its power, authority and budgetary control and give community schools more say in decision-making. Curriculum reform in both English and Thai should focus on making synthetic phonics blending a back-to-basics sanuk-sanan method of encouraging reading as a daily habit, ensuring that each and every child assumes personal responsibility for promoting self-aware creative thinking.

No Holds Bard Charles Frederickson


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