What is the whole language philosophy?

Home News Cai Music Essays Training Vocabulary Teaching Plan Forum


“Whole language” as a reading strategy has gained popularity in recent years. It has been so successful that many reading and writing approaches have modified their teaching to include whole language activities.


The whole language philosophy “...is a belief system about the nature of learning and how it can be fostered in classrooms and schools. It is not an approach, though some kinds of activities can reasonably be characterized as whole language because they are consonant with this philosophy...Language is kept whole, not fragmented into 'skills'; literacy skills and strategies are developed in the context of whole, authentic literacy events, while reading and writing experiences permeate the whole curriculum; and learning within the classroom is integrated with the whole life of the learner.” (Weaver, C. 1990)


Shared reading experiences and other reading methods that come under the umbrella of 'whole language' instruction often fit very well with the traditional learning styles of non-western communities.


In these societies, the traditional learning styles often are those of learning by observation, imitation, and approximation of real behaviors with strong inclinations towards learning by doing.


Whole language approaches

  • allow learners to observe real reading behaviors in non-threatening situations
  • allow them to approximate such behaviors without fear or shame, and
  • encourage them to learn to read by reading.

Here are some features of a whole language philosophy (adapted from Weaver, C. 1990):

  • Children are expected to learn to read and write as they learned to talk, that is gradually, without a great deal of direct instruction.
  • Learning is emphasized more than teaching... It is assumed that the children will learn to read and write, and the teacher facilitates that growth.
  • Children read and write every day--and they are not asked to read artificially simplified or contrived language.
  • Reading, writing, and oral language are not considered separate components of the curriculum or merely ends in themselves; rather they permeate everything the children are doing.
  • There is no division between first learning to read and later reading to learn.

Here are some examples of reading approaches and activities that use whole language concepts:

See also

Context for this page:

Page content last modified: 27 July 1999

Copyright © 2005-2008,Luxi ELT, All Rights Reserved
地 址:江西 * 萍乡 * 芦溪 邮 编:337200