If I gave you a list of foreign words, taught you the generally applicable rules for decoding those words, then invented a game to let you practice this decoding, would you be able to read a novel written in that language?
Would I have taught you how to read in that language?
How about these words? I’ll teach you how to pronounce every one, then give you a poem written in this language:
noll, fyra, femte, atta, tjugoforsta, tjugo, tolv, arton, tack, hejsan, kvall, nej … and so on
Could you read it?
Or could you just ‘word call’ it – make every word sound just right but have no idea what the piece was about?
In other words, is learning to pronounce single words correctly, without any syntactic or semantic, context really reading?
Of course not!
Reading is about making meaning and without any syntactic or semantic cues individual words have wavering, shifting meanings, and sometimes no meaning at all.
So why is it that a card game that helps children to decode individual words, devoid of meaning or context, called ‘Teaching Reading Using Games’ or TRUGS?
Quite simply it is NOT a reading game. It’s a coding game. And reading is about far more than coding and decoding.
The game is fine, and the ability to decode words through phonemic analysis and the application of grapho-phonic rules is an important skill, but let’s not pretend that playing the game is the same as teaching reading.
In an article in The New Yorker of June 3, 2013, Adam Alter writes:
“These studies suggest a sort of linguistic Heisenberg principle: as soon as you label a concept, you change how people perceive it.”
Names are powerful. The change the way we think.
So please, let’s not call this game TRUGS.
It doesn’t teach reading.
It is a great decoding game.
How about calling it Teaching Decoding Using Games instead? TDUGS?
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