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[Susan notes: Teachers and parents are fighting the same literacy battles in England as we are here.]

Submitted to The Guardian but not published

To the editor

Research supports Michael Rosen and 90 other writers and artists who urged a reduction in spelling, grammar and phonics teaching and testing, and an increased emphasis on reading for

enjoyment ( Children must be free to read for fun, July 24, 2012).

Studies done over the last 100 years show that spelling instruction has very little effect on spelling accuracy. Studies done over the last 100 years show that the formal study of grammar does not improve students' reading and writing.

Studies done over the last 25 years show that heavy phonics study (termed "systematic intensive phonics") only helps children do better on tests in which they pronounce lists of words out-loud. It has no significant effect on tests in which children have to understand what they read.

Decades of research also confirm that those who read more are better readers, better writers, spell better, have larger vocabularies, and have better control of complex grammar rules. The best way to make sure students develop a strong command of written and spoken English is to encourage wide, self-selected reading.

Some sources:


Research reviewed in Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading: Heinemann, Libraries Unlimited.

Earliest study: Rice, J. 1897. The futility of

the spelling grind. Forum 23: 163-172, 409-419.


Research reviewed in Krashen, S. (op. cit.).,

Hillocks, G. 1986. Research on Written Composition. New Directions for Teaching. Urbana,



Garen, E. 2002. Resisting Reading Mandates. Heinemann.

Krashen, S. 2009. Does intensive decoding instruction contribute to reading comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37 (4): 72-74.

Those who read more â¦. Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Heinemann and Libraries Unlimited.

Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, USC

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