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Does Intensive Phonics Instruction Treat Students Like Baboons?

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You may have seen reports on the study released this week showing that baboon could learn to distinguish between true English words and fake ones.

Here’s how Ed Yong explained it:

Grainger thinks that the baboons learned to tell the real words from the fakes by using the frequencies of letter combinations within them. They learned which combinations were most likely to be found in real words, and made their choices accordingly. They had gleaned the stats of English, without any knowledge of the language itself.

The study got me wondering if there were some similarities between what the baboons learned and the approach of teaching intensive phonics. One difference is that in the teaching of intensive phonics students aren’t necessarily taught to distinguish between fake and real words and are even tested on pronouncing the fake ones correctly.

What are your thoughts?

Here are two other links you might be interested in:

Google’s Intelligence Is More Baboon Than Human is from The Atlantic.

The Best Articles & Sites For Teachers & Students To Learn About Phonics

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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