The Reading Professor

Presenter Information


Document Type



This exploratory article examines some current practices associated with systematic phonics instruction and the challenges associated with such practices as identified in the literature. Morphological instruction, having been found to benefit students with reading and spelling difficulties, strengthens arguments in favor of morphophonemic approaches such as Structured Word Inquiry (SWI). SWI is presented as an instructional approach that gives teachers and students an additional perspective to consider in the teaching and learning of word meanings, word reading, and spelling. SWI is presented as a morphophonemic approach to word analysis that reveals the logic of English spelling and its role in the prioritization and preservation of meaning. Viewed through the lens of critical literacy, SWI interrogates the prioritization of phonics over meaning-based approaches as well as the power dynamics associated with teacher-centered instruction. The multiplicity that is a hallmark of critical literacy applies to SWI's multiple dimensions of morphology, phonology, and etymology, all of which interact in the process of learning to spell, read, and define words. SWI has been postulated to enhance student motivation for word learning, so its potential utility for fostering literacy development in adolescent struggling readers is considered.