Whole language: The whole language approach to literacy is an educational philosophy that believes in teaching children to read by focusing on meaning and strategies for understanding language as system of parts that work together to create meaning. Though it sounds as though whole language discounts phonics as a way to teach reading, teaching phonemic awareness (or sub-lexical reading) is a component of a whole language approach.
The philosophy also believes in teaching students to recognize core words as a whole word instead of sounding out all words phonetically. It uses literature as a teaching tool, aims to integrate literacy with all parts of the curriculum (including science, math and social studies) and asks students to use reading and writing for everyday purposes instead of just for the sake of learning to read and write.
Also Known As: balanced literacy
Disadvantages: It's been suggested that students who are taught using a pure whole language approach without a phonics component have a difficult time learning how to spell.