عنوان مقاله [English]
The present study compared the effects of the traditional and the phonics-based methods of teaching Persian alphabet on adult Persian language learners' reading skill. The study aimed to identify the appropriate method of teaching Persian alphabet to non-Persian speakers and, based on it, to prepare and compile learning materials. The participants of this study were eight Chinese learners of Persian language who worked in Tabas Mining Group Company and aged between 24 to 31 years old. They were assigned to control and experimental groups. In the control group, the traditional method and in the experimental group, the phonics-based method was used to teach Persian alphabet. Through SPSS software package, t-tests were run on data to detect significant differences between the control and experimental groups. The results of the study showed that compared to the traditional group, the phonics-based group performed significantly better in word reading and reading comprehension.
Over the last decade, there has been an unprecedented growth in the number of foreign learners of Persian language. To cater for the needs of these learners, many measures should be taken. One of the most important measures involves the improvement of teaching materials and teaching methods. That is, it is necessary to identify appropriate teaching methods for various language skills and components.
Reading as one of the important language skills requires facility with the letters of alphabet. In many Iranian schools and Persian language teaching centers, Persian language instruction begins with the teaching of alphabet. Learning the alphabet of a language is essential to acquire the ability to read and write in the language.
There are several ways to teach alphabet. In the traditional method, Persian language letters are taught in the alphabetical order regardless of phonetic properties, and letters that are similar in form or have similar sounds are taught together. This method has not provided satisfactory results in terms of reading skill. To improve learners’ reading skills, other methods of teaching alphabet have been proposed one of which is called phonics method. In phonics method, the letters are taught in a non-alphabetical order. The order of presentation is determined by factors such as simplicity, familiarity, and frequency of application.
This study aimed to compare the effects of traditional and phonics-based methods of teaching Persian alphabet on the reading skill of Chinese learners of Persian language.
For the teaching of reading and writing skills, three methods have been proposed which include analytic method, holistic method, and hybrid method (Sabaghian, 2000). The analytic method is based on the theory that teaching should begin with the parts and move towards the whole. Thus, the teaching of reading and writing skills begins with the smallest linguistic units, namely letters, sounds, and syllables and then extends to words, phrases, sentences, and texts. In the holistic method, teaching of reading and writing begins with the whole and progresses towards the parts. This theory is based on Gestalt theory which recommends the logical progression from the whole to the part. In this method, first the text and the sentences, and then the words, the syllables, the letters, and the sounds are taken into account. The holistic method is based on the theory that teaching and learning should begin with larger meaningful units such as sentences and words, and end with smaller units. The hybrid method is a combination of the analytic and holistic methods. On the one hand, in line with holistic method, it adopts a holistic view and emphasizes reading with thought and comprehension. On the other hand, in line with analytic method, it involves teaching the forms of letters and their sounds, the correct pronunciation of words, and the ways of recognizing new words. In the hybrid method, simultaneous with practicing letters and sounds, word and word reading are also attended to.
Review of literature:
Until 1975, in English schools holistic method was used to teach reading skills. Most students could read well, but there was always a large enough group of children who had difficulty remembering words and were unable to successfully read and write. Those children were unable to recognize sound-letter correspondences and relate them to words. To solve this problem, the teachers decided to teach the sounds of the letters as well so that they could help the learners. This method of alphabet instruction was called phonics method. Phonics method involves raising learners’ awareness of the relationships between written letters and spoken sounds. The purpose of phonics method is to teach learners to understand the relationships between letters and sounds and use their knowledge of sound-letter correspondences to identify words when they read and to spell the words when they write (Fletcher, 2009). Studies showed that children who were instructed through this method were generally more successful in reading and had very few problems (Lloyd, 1998).
The population of this study consisted of 24-31 years old Chinese learners of Persian language who were working in Tabas Mining Group Company. They had no knowledge of Persian language. The study sample consisted of 8 individuals who were randomly selected from the population and assigned into two equal-sized groups. In the control group, the traditional method and in the experimental group, the phonics method was used to teach alphabet. The intervention consisted of 10 two-hour classroom sessions which included teaching reading skill. After the intervention, a written and an oral exam were administered to the participants to measure their reading skills. The written test consisted of multiple-choice, matching, and true/false items. The oral test consisted of two reading texts that the learners had to read orally and answer the relevant questions. To answer the research questions, groups’ mean scores on the two tests and the overall reading were compared through t-test analyses.
Results and conclusion:
On the written test, the mean score of the experimental group was significantly higher than that of the control group. However, on the oral test, there was no significant difference between the mean scores of the two groups. On overall reading (aggregate of written and oral scores), the mean score of the experimental group was significantly higher than that of the control group. Based on these results, it was concluded that phonics-based teaching of Persian alphabet leads to better word reading and comprehension.