Research from Stanford University, USA, has shown that phonics instruction activates the left hemisphere of the brain. This is where visual and language regions are located.
The researchers showed that an alternative reading instruction method, known as whole-word or whole-language activates the right side of the brain.
Prof Bruce McCandliss, a co-author of the research noted that left hemisphere activation is characteristic of skilled readers, and is lacking in individuals who struggle with reading.
Study which was published in the Brain and Language journal provides evidence that different strategies for teaching reading have different impacts on a student’s brain.
This is an example of how educational neuroscience can help teachers select instructional methods to best support brain changes important for learning.
It is further evidence that should finally put to rest the debate over whether phonics instruction or the whole-language method is the best way to teach reading.
"The results of the study underscore that the way a learner focusses their attention during learning has a profound impact on what is learned, " said Professor McCandliss. "It also highlights the importance of skilled teachers in helping children focus their attention on precisely the most useful information."
There are many other studies that have shown that the Fast ForWord programs develop students' fundamental phonemic and phonological awareness skills. These programs help develop students's brains to be more ready for reading instruction at school.