Thesis Title

Investigating the Implementation of Whole Languge: Strengths and Weaknesses

Graduation Date

Fall 2007

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name


Program Director

Madalienne F. Peters, EdD


The Whole Language/Phonics debate has been raging in California since the 1980s. However, there has been no real determination about which method is best for teaching reading to our students. Yet the Whole Language method has lost the recognition and respect of the educational community because the program was not implemented by all teachers the way it was intended. The purpose of this study is identify the strengths and weaknesses of the Whole Language, and to determine if it is an effective method of teaching early literacy to first grade students. From the literature it appears that while Whole Language does have benefits, it cannot stand alone in the teaching of early literacy.

Five professionals in teaching early literacy skills were interviewed in person or by email. They were asked if they teach the Whole Language approach. They were asked to give an opinion on what they felt were the strengths and weaknesses of the approach.

Responses indicate that professionals felt that the approach was strong with regard to the use of high quality literature and the way in which children were motivated to read. They all felt that the approach did not include sufficient explicit phonics instruction.

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