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

Examples of whole language in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The teaching of reading has largely been framed as a battle between phonics and whole language. Marion Blank, Scientific American, 26 Sep. 2023 Students learn to sound out letters, but sounding out is only used as a last resort under whole language instruction because the underlying theory of the method is that reading is natural for most children, similar to how learning to talk is innate. cleveland, 21 Dec. 2022 The whole language approach does not emphasize sounding out letters, but focuses on learning to read words and passages using practice, context and clues such as individual letters and pictures. Tyler Katzenberger, Journal Sentinel, 8 June 2023 And over the course of those four decades, public officials and academic experts told her how literacy should be taught, shifting several times from a focus on phonics, to self-discovery and whole word memorization, back to phonics and phonemes and then again to whole language. Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle, 23 June 2022 Designations as phonics-based versus whole language were made by Ed Reports, a nonprofit that provides independent reviews of instructional materials. oregonlive, 6 Jan. 2023 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

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'whole language.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 21 May. 2024.

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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