Reading Wars: Whole Word Versus Phonics

Jared Cooney Horvath is a globally recognized Science of Learning expert committed to helping teachers, students and parents achieve better outcomes through applied brain and behavioral science.

War of the Proses ...

Coke vs. Pepsi | Paper vs. Plastic | Kirk vs. Picard | Team Jacob vs. Team Edward


These are just some of the enduring dichotomies that have defined our age.


And, if you’ve been in education for any length of time, you understand why we can rightly place Phonics vs. Whole Word into this category.


Known as ‘The Reading Wars’, the debate about how best to teach children to read (whole-language or phonics) has been raging for 30+ years.


In my newest 'From Theory to Practice' video, I look at an interesting research article that offers some compelling evidence in favor of one side:


Attentional Focus During Learning Impacts N170 ERP Responses (Yuliya Yoncheva et al, March 2015)


Here are some of the questions I tackle in this installment:

  • How does the brain process words and symbols differently than visual images … and why does this matter?

  • What does this research reveal about the respective power of phonics versus holistic language/whole words?

  • What are some important takeaways for teachers regarding how to approach classroom instruction (vis-à-vis reading or otherwise)?

Give it a watch, and let me know what you think in the YT comments section.


And, as always, if you find this video valuable, interesting and/or entertaining, you can support us by liking, sharing and subscribing to our YouTube channel ;)



Video Transcript

Hello everybody, and welcome to this week's From Theory to Practice, where I take a look at the research so you don't have to.


The article I’ve selected this week is called Attentional Focus During Learning Impacts N170 ERP Responses by Yuliya Yoncheva and colleagues.


Now, for those of you who managed to stay awake during the reading of that title, I assure you this is a really interesting paper because it addresses one of the key issues in education today: namely The Reading Wars


For those of you who have never heard about this before, in education there's been kind of an ongoing civil war concerning how do we best teach kids how to read ...

Click to view remainder of the transcript ...

Did You Enjoy This Post?

Help spread the idea by sharing it with your peers and colleagues ...

NOT ON THE LIST? Click below to join the LME Community ... and receive new Science of Learning articles from Dr. Jared Cooney Horvath every week!