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[Susan notes: This very clear statement of what reading is should be sent to the media far and wide.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published

To the editor

Reading is about understanding, not pronouncing

A Florida State study of twins in grades 1 and 2 claimed that "Better Teachers Help Children Read Faster" (April 22).

"Better teachers" were those whose students gained more on a test of pronouncing texts rapidly and accurately, without necessarily understanding them. Instruction that prepares students for these kinds of tests consists largely of intensive, heavy phonics. Prof. Elaine Garan of California State University Fresno has shown that heavy phonics will result in better performance on tests of "decoding" (pronouncing words) but has little influence on tests requiring children to understand what they read. Performance on tests of reading comprehension is related the amount children read, not heavy phonics instruction.

Teaching children to pronounce words quickly does not mean teaching them to understand what they read. And understanding what reading is all about.

Stephen Krashen, Professor Emeritus, USC

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