Reading and Writing

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 349-369

First online:

Explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonemically based decoding skills as an intervention strategy for struggling readers in whole language classrooms

  • Janice F. RyderAffiliated withCollege of Education, Massey University
  • , William E. TunmerAffiliated withCollege of Education, Massey University Email author 
  • , Keith T. GreaneyAffiliated withCollege of Education, Massey University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The aim of this study was to determine whether explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonemically based decoding skills would be an effective intervention strategy for children with early reading difficulties in a whole language instructional environment. Twenty-four 6- and 7-year-old struggling readers were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group, with the intervention group being divided into four groups of three children each. The intervention program was carried out over a period of 24 weeks and comprised 56 highly sequenced, semi-scripted lessons in phonemic awareness and alphabetic coding skills delivered by a teacher aide who received training and ongoing support from a remedial reading specialist. Posttests results showed that the intervention group significantly outperformed the control group on measures of phonemic awareness, pseudoword decoding, context free word recognition, and reading comprehension. Two-year follow-up data indicated that the positive effects of the intervention program were not only maintained but had generalized to word recognition accuracy in connected text.


Phonemic awareness Decoding skills Reading difficulties Reading intervention