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In Shakespeare's day, words didn't even have consistent spellings. Of course he wrote and read phonetically.

But English is phonetic (but is it, compared to German or Japanese?) which is conflation with phonics.

The article did not clearly explain what cognitive science has to do with phonics, which AFAIT is a heuristic system for Western languages. So when I studied Chinese as a child, how did I learn to write Chinese, nonphonetically, without confusing horses and ponies? A heuristic is an optimization but not fundamental but the article clearly asserts that phonics is fundamental to language in that if you don't use phonics you get illiterate students... I think there's some conceptual conflation or some middle case being ignored by the author: A) Is [formal instruction in] phonics necessary? v.s. B) Is 3-Cue harmful? These are not proper opposites.

Here's a provocative claim made in a more sciencey article I just found:

"The linguist David Crystal (2003) estimates that the phonics can explain only about 50 percent of English spellings."


And further down:

"As the linguists Venezky (1967) and Carol Chomsky (1970) explained, English prioritizes the consistent spelling of morphemes over the consistent spellings of phonemes."

English's primary strength over other European languages is its use of logography. It's sad to see how most English speakers see that as "BuT iT IsN't PHoNeTicALlY rEgUlaR!". This is despite the fact that phonetic shifts across time and space mean that no writing systen will ever be completely phonetically regular. Phonics can be useful but they can't be fundamental because the impossibility of phonetic regularity means that phonics will always be somewhat misleading.

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