The Missing Foundation in Teacher Education

Louisa Cook Moats, Ph.D

Knowledge of the Structure of Spoken and Written Language
Louisa Cook Moats
The Greenwood Institute
Putney, Vermont

Reading research supports the necessity for directly teaching concepts about linguistic structure to beginning readers and to students with reading and spelling difficulties. In this study, experienced teachers of reading, language arts, and special education were tested to determine if they have the requisite awareness of lan-
guage elements (e.g., phonemes, morphemes) and of how these elements are represented in writing (e.g., knowledge of sound-symbol correspondences). The results were surprisingly poor, indicating that even motivated and experienced teachers typically understand too little about spoken and written language structure to be able to provide sufficient instruction in these areas. The utility of language structure knowledge for instructional planning, for assessment of student progress, and for remediation of literacy problems is discussed.

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