Global Method for Learning to Read: Pros and Cons

There are many techniques for teaching children to read, but, below, we'll talk about one of them - the global method.
Global Method for Learning to Read: Pros and Cons

Last update: 07 September, 2021

Learning to read is one of the most important milestones in every child’s life. But reading skills aren’t something they acquire overnight. Rather, a long teaching-learning process is necessary. To help children learn to read, parents and educators can use different techniques, such as the global method for reading.

The Belgian pedagogue, psychologist, and physician Ovide Decroly devised this method. He argued that children could acquire many skills, such as reading, on the basis of the principle of globalization. That is, by first analyzing a whole and then analyzing each of its parts.

Do you want to know more about the use of the global method to learn to read? Below, we’ll explain in detail what it consists of and what its main advantages and disadvantages are.

“One of the greatest and most valuable learnings that human beings could obtain was to have learned to read.”

-Anonymous-

A small child reading at a table near his grandmother.

What does the global method of reading consist of?

The global method of reading consists of teaching children to visually recognize certain words, phrases, and sentences that are part of the environment in which they grow and develop. In such a way that, little by little, they become familiar with these grammatical elements and their concrete meaning until they acquire an extensive and varied vocabulary.

Therefore, the global method, as its name indicates, involves the teaching of reading from the whole. That’s to say, starting from broad units (words, phrases, and sentences), children learn to recognize the simple units, such as phonemes or syllables, which make up these broader units, in an intuitive and spontaneous way.

The advantages of the global method for learning to read

According to the educator María Inmaculada Rosano García, some of the advantages of using the global method of reading are the following:

  • It works from an integral and global perspective, since, in addition to reading, it develops the development of writing and verbal expression.
  • Children are the main protagonists of their own learning, maintaining an active role throughout the whole process.
  • The method teachers reading in a practical way, avoiding systematized lessons.
  • The learning of reading takes place quickly and ensures good comprehension. In fact, you can observe results from the very beginning.
  • Reading takes place through games and playful activities, which is highly motivating for children.
  • It’s based on repetition for the assimilation of learning.
  • It facilitates the acquisition of correct spelling.
  • Children can analyze the knowledge of syllables, so that, from them, they can create new words, phrases, and sentences.
  • Children can learn to read at an earlier age than with other more traditional methods.

However, as with any teaching method, it’s not all advantages; there are also a number of disadvantages that we should mention.

Disadvantages of using this reading method

Some of the disadvantages of applying the global method of reading are the following:

  • The person in charge of teaching reading through such a method must have broad and specific training in evolutionary and child development psychology and learning psychology.
  • Educators must offer individualized attention to each child, which is difficult to achieve in an ordinary classroom.
  • It requires a long and extensive process for the complete learning of reading.
  • It requires a lot of effort and commitment, both on the part of the teachers and the family, who must be in charge of carrying out the necessary stimulation for learning to read.
  • Teachers need to use different didactic materials and to have enough space in the classroom to be able to store and use them comfortably.
Parents and their daughter lying in bed reading a book.

“‘If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.’.”

-Ignacio Estrada-

Is the global method the best method for learning to read?

There’s no single method that’s totally ideal for learning to read. The global method, regardless of its advantages and disadvantages, can be very effective for some children, but not for others.

Therefore, what really matters is to adapt to the characteristics and needs of children and encourage them in the whole process of acquiring reading skills.

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