Understanding phonics is complex, but if we take a closer look at the critical element of pronunciation from basics, we can get a basic idea.
The basic skills of phonics include:
- The letter/sound direct understanding is to pronounce words then attach meaning to them.
- As your students grow, they use other decoding skills like recognizing parts (e.g., roots and affixes), then they learn the ability to decode multisyllabic words.
Read further to get a clear idea of what phonics is and how different components help learn it effectively.
What is Phonics?
Phonics is the relationship between sounds and their spellings. Phonics is essential to teach students and give them a better idea to improve sound-spelling relationships to translate easily. Reading may be somewhat difficult without proper knowledge of decoding ability.
The phonics teaching strategy divides into two parts:
The incidental method involves intervention strategies that teachers use as per requirement.
Systematic phonics instruction involves using a specific lesson plan in an arranged order that develops to work concurrently.
Importance of Phonics Instruction
There are different strategies to read correctly apart from the use of context and picture clues. For becoming a fluent reader, it is essential to focus on all reading strategies equally. One of the most important methods is the understanding of sound-spelling relationships or understanding of phonics.
However, phonics instruction plays a significant role in assisting students in comprehending text. It helps students with spelling and enables them to decode easily. Decoding words properly makes it easy for word recognition and gives rise to reading fluency.
Furthermore, phonics instruction expands spelling ability since it highlights spelling patterns. Studies reveal that phonics rules are helpful because they relate one letter to one sound.
Components of Phonics
1. Implicit vs. Explicit Phonics Instruction
The National Reading Panel suggests that systematic and explicit phonics instruction makes reading more effective for students.
Explicit phonics is helpful as they start with simple sounds in a word, then go from patterns to syllables, and finally the complete word. Explicit phonics has a broad approach. Researches have shown that implicit phonics is not as productive as explicit phonics. It employs students to look at a word and use the whole context to figure it out. If they are unable to make out from context, then they may go from natural to part.
Explicit instruction is applied in the style of teaching where the instructor clearly explains the learning goals for students and adequately describes unclear words. Explicit phonics instruction is much more demanding and includes systematic and sequential teaching of letter-sound relationships that enable students to decode easily. It plays an influential role in reading. Without systematic teaching, students would find it difficult to “crack the code” in different chunks.
However, it can be more effective with integration to a comprehensive literacy program that is the process of practice with decodable text and vocabulary exposure.
Approaches for explicit phonics teaching:
- Synthetic phonics
The synthetic approach includes building up phonic skills from the smallest unit called graphemes. It involves the process of blending and segmenting.
- Analytical phonics
It involves learning words by looking at first with putting attention to initial letter sounds. First, all letter sounds are introduced, then segmented and blended.
2. Regular and Irregular Words
Common words are those where every letter shows a familiar sound. Regular words are those that students can decode phonologically. Since the language is alphabetical so, it is essential to recognize words.
We can use phonetics spelling for most words and understand the direct sound and the written letters. English consists of sound-spelling rules for most of the words in it so, they are called common spelled words.
Phonetic spelling strategy is an effective way to teach regularly spelled words. Regular words are easy to decode by sounding them out.
Irregular words in phonics are those words or letter combinations that may be difficult to read or pronounce because they do not follow any specific spelling or phonics rules.
Readers can decode irregular words because of the following reasons:
- Each letter is unique in its sound
- The word may be new to students and learned for the first time.
- The most effective way to teach irregular phonics words is to introduce students to use a ‘whole word’ or ‘memorization approach
3. High-Frequency Words
High-frequency words are the common words that appear in text repeatedly. They can be decodable (that are easy to sound out) and exception words (that are unusual words and recognized by learning and memorizing.)
High-frequency words are the most common words in reading comprehension, so students need to understand how to read and sound out them. Some of the words may be complex due to spelling, and students may find them difficult to pronounce.
The problematic issue arises that many students attempt to learn the tricky words by shape but soon they forget the spelling they had memorized. So learning words by the body may be critical and inefficient as students cannot sustain the information for long.
One of the most effective ways of teaching high-frequency words is the multi-sensory way to use all senses in learning and remembering information: hearing, seeing, saying, and touching.
How to teach high-frequency words?
- Below are the ways to teach high-frequency words in a multi-sensory and phonic way.
- Teach with spelling and sound strategies like ‘th’.
- Make students practice by saying the word sound as per their order placement. Make diagraphs on one card and ask students to mix sounds to make a word. (The strategy goes for words with the same spelling.
- Another helpful strategy instructors can use magnetic letters. It is the best practice to follow as part of the word-building lesson.
- Lastly, the instructor can dictate short and simple sentences to make their students’ spelling strong, including high-frequency words.
4. Multisyllabic Words
As the name suggests, multisyllabic words are words having more than one syllable or vowel sound. It would help if you broke down the word to pronounce it correctly in multisyllabic words
It is not easy to learn reading and spelling words strategically. It requires learning different rules to get accuracy, vocabulary development, fluency, and overall comprehension. If you teach students practical strategies, they tend to develop a strong foundation for reading and spelling successfully.
It is common for students to get stuck during reading due to more complex and longer spelling words. It is essential to teach them the multisyllabic terms that will make it easy to read the text.
Below are the practical tips for reading multisyllabic words. Learning word parts effectively will help do reading and understanding the comprehension easier.
Teach students to identify vowel graphemes in word and underline them by locating correctly.
- Divide the words into three essential parts:
- Circle familiar suffixes
- Underline familiar prefixes
- Utilize syllabus knowledge to decode vowel sound
- Pronounce the whole words to see if it makes sense
- Properly underline each syllable and mix them left to right
- Check for clarification in the context if it makes proper sense.
Tips for teaching students to spell longer words correctly:
- Repeat the word to check if it makes proper sense
- Underline each spoken syllable
- Pronounce each syllable separately
- Make section of the sounds in each syllable and pronounce them well
- Match the rules with sound
- Reread to get confirmation
5. Progression of Phonics Skills
It is vital to teaching instruction systematically and sequentially. The first step is to teach letters and sounds. Then combine letters to make words, finally teach students to connect words to form a sentence.
The below steps may be challenging to teach individually rather than teaching cluster. Each cluster may include multiple substeps.
Follow the step-by-step guideline to create a better understanding of the phonic method. The helpful guide will teach you to find the gaps in your students’ learning and build a strong foundation.
Children are likely to produce effective results if you teach them with sequence to make their reading and spelling better. It depends on each student how early they learn. Some students may take a longer time to learn the phonics.
The simple sequence of phonics elements will teach students to sound out words effectively from easy to difficult phase:
- Consonants & short vowel sounds
- Consonant digraphs and blends
- Other vowel patterns
- Long vowel digraphs
- Long vowel/finale
- Syllable patterns
- Syllable patterns
Every child has a different level of learning and may take additional time to learn each phase. You can assist your students in learning phonics by teaching them to apply phonics information in their reading and writing. You can either use multiple approaches to teach letter-sound relationships. It may include counters, sound boxes, and magnetic letters.