whole language


: a method of teaching reading and writing that emphasizes learning whole words and phrases by encountering them in meaningful contexts rather than by phonics exercises

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Along with Calkins, those two professors, one based at Ohio State and one at Lesley University in Massachusetts, are some of the most influential producers of whole language curriculum materials. oregonlive, 8 Jan. 2023 School districts are returning to older ways of teaching, such as phonetics, as are some of the writers of curriculum that uses the whole language method. cleveland, 21 Dec. 2022 In schools of education — where future teachers are trained — some instructors fully support explicit phonics instruction, others still lean toward the whole language approach, or treat them equally. Lelah Byron And Aimee Galaszewski, Journal Sentinel, 8 Sep. 2022 Less reliant on rote learning, the whole language approach has often been backed by progressives. Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle, 23 June 2022 Advocates of whole language—and its wildly popular successor, balanced literacy—are generally opposed to direct, explicit instruction. Natalie Wexler, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 At the time, schools were applying a literacy theory called whole language approach, which uses literature as a teaching tool and emphasizes learning through the context of words instead of breaking them down phonetically. Los Angeles Times, 25 Mar. 2022 The group settled on an approach that included whole language and phonics, a victory for Joseph. Los Angeles Times, 25 Mar. 2022 Advocates of the rival whole language approach, which means figuring out words from context or from being exposed to good literature, are in retreat, but have left many casualties. Washington Post, 10 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whole language.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1977, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of whole language was in 1977

Dictionary Entries Near whole language

Cite this Entry

“Whole language.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whole%20language. Accessed 20 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition

whole language

: a method of teaching reading and writing that emphasizes learning whole words and phrases by encountering them in written or printed work rather than by the method of phonics
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