What Do “Whole Language” Readers Do?

Whole language readers typically:

  • Search pages for pictures when they don’t know a word
  • Look at teacher’s face for cues
  • Insert incorrect words for unknown words – typically the inserted word starts with same letter as unknown word
  • Guess words before they even get to the end of sentences
  • Spell poorly – little relationship between sounds and letters used
  • Be able to “recite” familiar stories as they look at pages – but they struggle to read stories of similar difficulty they have never seen
  • Cannot tell you the correct sounds for vowels and digraphs (two-letter combinations making one new sound)
  • Typically vocalize consonant sounds with a vowel sound “uh” attached at the end (“buh” for /b/ sound)
  • Cannot blend a series of sounds into a whole word

It is worth noting that dyslexic children also do some of these things when trying to read, but the whole language trained “reader” is far more likely to guess a lot. The dyslexic child will continue to struggle to make sense out of the printed word without coming up with a word that fits.