What are the Pros and Cons of the Phonics and Whole Language Approaches in Teaching English 

Phonics is the relationship between letters and the sounds they produce. According to the International Reading Association, phonics is, “an important aspect of beginning reading instruction.” However, phonics needs to be included in a complete language arts program, and learning to read requires more than just phonics.

Pros of Phonics in Teaching English

Correct Recognition

Phonics enables learners to recognize and pronounce new words correctly.

Improves word reading ability

Phonics also improves the word reading ability of learners.

Suitable for all learners

Beginner readers, as well as seasoned readers, can have an increased ability to pronounce words with ease.

Improves Spelling

Phonics finds patterns present in English which enables learners to learn spellings easily.

Improves Pronunciation

Phonetics also stresses pronunciation and improves the learner’s pronunciation of all words.

Cons Of Phonetics In Teaching English

Lack Of Understanding

Despite accurate pronunciation, learners may not understand the meanings of words properly.


It may create confusion about the meaning of similar-sounding words.

Poor Acquisition of Text

Learners may be able to read the text properly but may be unable to grasp its meaning.

Poor Comprehension

Due to their lack of understanding, learners may also have poor comprehension of words.

Lack of coverage

Phonics cannot cover all areas of language learning leading to some gaps.

The whole language approach in teaching English is an approach where stimulating children that interest the learners is taught. It is a method of teaching children how to read by encouraging them to understand how to words are put together. It also enables them to frame meaningful sentences in a language.

Pros of Whole Language Approach

  1. Learners are exposed to meaningful literature from the beginning.
  2. It makes learning more interesting for learners.
  3. It encourages creativity and allows learners to understand the reading material properly.
  4. Learners can also be more observant and free in this approach.
  5. They learn to imitate proper reading behavior without losing confidence.

Cons of Whole Language Approach

  1. The lack of phonetics instruction may lead learners to spell words incorrectly.
  2. Learners may not be able to recognize unfamiliar words successfully.
  3. The approach also tends to overlook accuracy most of the time.
  4. Teachers may find difficulty using this approach as they have to frame their curriculum.
  5. Some learners may prefer more organized learning methods and this approach may not be compatible with them.

Keeping the learners’ interests and learning abilities in mind is highly important when choosing between the phonics and whole language approach to teaching English.