Vowel clustering teaches children to break words down into letter sounds, also called phonemes, and then put those sounds back together to make a word. There is no memorization of sight word lists, and children do not learn phonics rules. Children study letter sounds and combinations of sounds so they can sound out words and improve their reading skills. For children to learn to read, they must be competent in phonemic awareness or decoding (breaking down) words into letter sounds and then encoding (reassembling) those sounds back into pronounceable words. Neither Look and Say (Whole Word), Whole Language, or even a combination of old style phonics rules and Whole Language help children improve phonemic awareness.
Elaine Clanton Harpine, Ph.D.
Elaine is a program designer with many years of experience helping at-risk children learn to read. She earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology (Counseling) from the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.