Analytic phonics refers to a common approach to teaching reading that starts at the word level rather than the sound (phoneme) level. Unlike synthetic phonics, it doesn’t teach the blending of sounds together. Analytic phonics is also called implicit phonics because understanding the sound-letters connection is implied rather than introduced directly.

Analytic phonics is often taught with leveled reading books, look-say practice, and other aids such as phonics worksheets. However, it’s a very different way of teaching synthetic phonics, which will be discussed in more detail below!

What are some phonics analysis examples?

But how does analytic phonics work in practice? To help us understand this system a little better, let’s take a look at a few phonics analysis examples. This will give us an idea of how it’s taught and what children will learn.

Once children have learned the names of all 26 letters in the alphabet and their sounds, they’ll start to explore how these sounds might appear at the start of words. Check out these phonics analysis examples:

  • Cat.
  • Cup.
  • Car.

In these phonics analysis examples, children can see that all three words start with the same short ‘c’ sound. Using examples like these, children will learn to spot common sounds at the beginning, middle, and end of words. This means they’ll be able to see how units of sound (or phonemes) form part of words rather than looking at them out of context.

As well as making connections between words with similar sounds, children will learn to read and spell words using rhyme. If kids come across an unfamiliar word, they can attempt to spell or pronounce it by comparing it to a comment with similar sounds. Here are some phonics analysis examples:

  • Cake.
  • Bake.
  • Rake.
  • Stake.

If a child knows the word ‘cake’ and comes across another of these words for the first time, they’ll be able to see that both words have the word ending ‘ake.’

Context is also a very important part of the analytic method. For example, if a child came across an unfamiliar word with ‘ake’ at the end, they might be encouraged to guess the word based on their reading.

Synthetic phonics vs. analytic phonics

Now that we’ve looked through several examples of phonics analysis let’s try to break down the difference between the analytic method and another method of teaching phonics: the synthetic one.

Synthetic phonics is more accelerated, and children are taught letter sounds when they start school. But, unfortunately, this is before they learn to read and even before being introduced to books!

In analytic phonics, children are taught to recognize whole words by sight and later break them into smaller units. Letter sounds are introduced after the reading has begun. With analytic phonics, children can differ widely in their ability to pick up all the rules of the English alphabet.

However, the use of synthetic phonics doesn’t exclude the use of analytic phonics. Some words can’t be learned by breaking them into smaller parts, and children must learn them by sight. These are referred to as ‘sight words.’

How is analytic phonics taught?

Some phonics analysis examples give us an idea of how the analytic method is taught. But let’s go into further detail about how and when kids will pick up new phonics skills.

In analytic phonics, children first learn the names of each of the 26 letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make. The letter ‘m’, for example, has the letter name ’em’ and the sound/m/ as in ‘mad.’ Initially, the focus is on identifying these sounds when they appear at the beginning of words. After that, the child will learn to identify the sounds at the middle and end of the terms.

Following this, children are taught how to blend letters to make simple three-letter words such as ‘cat’ and ‘pig.’ Then they will be introduced to consonant clusters, first at the beginning and then at the end of words.

The next stage of analytic phonics is to teach pupils about important letter combinations that symbolize specific sounds, such as long vowel sounds and consonant digraphs.

What are the advantages of analytic phonics?

Analytic phonics can help children with their spelling. An example of this could be for the word ‘bug,’ where children learn that the initial sound is the same as that of ‘big’ and ‘bat.’ This will help them conclude that they should write that sound with the same letter (grapheme), ‘b.’

This technique is also useful for reading words that don’t lend themselves to being sounded out phonetically. For example, ‘could,’ ‘would,’ and ‘should.’ Children can recognize all three of these words by learning the rhyme of ‘old.’

What are the disadvantages of analytic phonics?

One of the disadvantages is that learning the sounds and their blends might not be very interesting, especially for younger children. This might make it hard to keep them engaged and maintain their interest. There are also over 1000 graphemes to phoneme relationships in English so children may get confused with the inconsistencies in spelling.

Children are also distanced from the phonemic structure of the word and guided back to memorization of whole words.

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