Phonics: Everything You Need to Know

The association between words and the sounds exuded when they are pronounced. Through phonics instruction, adults can help children learn the alphabetic principle. According to this principle, there’s a logical, systematic, organized, and predictable connection between written letters and spoken sounds. When children learn the relationships between written letters and spoken sounds, they’ll start applying these relationships to both unfamiliar and familiar words. In other words, knowing how letters and letter patterns symbolize the sounds of spoken language will enable them to start reading fluently.

When teaching children sound-letter correspondence, let’s assume a teacher talks about the letter n and that it represents the sound /n/. He also teaches them it’s the first letter in words such as new, nice, and nose. Another example could be teaching the children how to match the sounds of spoken English with groups of letters or individual letters. Thus, they could be taught the sound k can be spelled as k, c, ch, or ck. Once the children understand the relationship between the written letter and the sound it makes, they’ll be able to sound out and read (or decode) new words.

To understand what they read, children must be able to do it automatically and quickly, without stumbling over words. Since phonics facilitates this process, it’s important to teach phonics to children.

When teaching phonics, two things need to be focused upon while giving the instructions. Firstly, they should be systematic. This refers to teaching the letter-sound relationship in a logical and organized sequence. Secondly, they should be explicit. This means they should clearly and precisely provide directions for teaching letter-sound relationships.

Some common ways of teaching phonics are:

Synthetic phonics: This is the most popular approach in which children are taught about how phonemes (sounds) related to specific graphemes (letters) are pronounced in isolation and then combined (synthesized). Thus, for a single-syllable word like cat, the children would be taught how to take its three letters apart, pronounce a phoneme for each of the letters one by one, namely – /k, æ, t/, and then merge the phonemes to form a word.

Analogy phonics: This method involves teaching children how to analyze phonic elements in relation to the word’s phonograms. A phonogram is made of the vowel and all the sounds that come after it, such as –ake in the word cake. The use of phonograms helps children learn about “word families,” such as make, cake, fake, bake, etc.

Choose your Reaction!