Have you ever tried to study for a test by pure memorization the night before? You might have done all right on the test, but could you remember and apply those same concepts a year later?
Do you know why? Memorization without context and true understanding is a short-term win, but doesn’t leave you with the foundational knowledge to understand related or harder concepts in the future.
Nowhere is this truism more useful than in the development and improvement of reading and writing abilities. From the very beginning, (self) teaching and learning phonics is the way to go!
What is Phonics?
Phonics is a method for native English and English as a Second Language (ESL) speakers to learn to read by associating the sounds of spoken English with letters or groups of letters.
Previous methods of whole language reading teaching – which asks learners to connect text to meaning from the start – tends to bombard struggling students with large numbers of phonetically unrelated words of random difficulty. Phonics, on the other hand, helps beginning English readers figure out both known and unfamiliar vocabulary items based on a learned, foundational understanding of the distinct sound units of specific letters and letter combinations, or phonemes.
When teaching or learning phonics, the basic letter combinations and sounds you need to know are straightforward – and can be mastered by starting with the below! This table represents the basic, most frequent patterns for teachers and learners to get used to. When these sound-letter correspondences become second nature, language students and new readers will be able to sound out most of the unknown words they see.
Top Reasons to Teach Phonics
Whether teaching native English or ESL students to read, there are a number of benefits to using a phonics-based approach:
- Phonics is an efficient way to learn to read and to teach reading. There are only 43 common phonemes in the English language represented by about 89 common spellings. By becoming familiar with the phonetic letter-to-sound correlations, students can quickly learn how to sound out these phonemes.
- Phonics works for most children and adults, including for English-language learners, remedial readers, and students with learning disabilities.
- Phonics makes language students better spellers. Because this method teaches recognition, pronunciation, and joining of sound-spelling patterns, words can be sounded out (divided into sounds to put together) and then either read (silently or aloud) and/or written down.
- Phonics makes eager learners smarter, and it builds self-confidence. Learning phonics systematically can actually improve brain activity that results in significant improvements in reading, comprehension, thinking, and memory. Seeing their measurable success gives students confidence about their skills in this area.
- Phonics is a widely applicable, predictable, systematic approach that builds not only linguistic but also analytical learning skills, contributing to ease and success in many areas of work and life.
Related Work/Life English Products:
- Everything to Know: Phonics & Spelling Resource Book
- Phonics & Spelling Bingo Teacher Resource Book
- Phonics & Spelling Workbooks, Basic or Practical
- Dyad “Information Gap” Activities for Adults
- Characters & Symbols of the American English Phonics System
- Sample of Classic Phonics Exercises
If you have any questions about phonics, please contact us on social media, or email your comments to our Subject Matter Expert: elaine@2learn-English.com
About Work/Life English
Work/Life English is an experienced provider of fun, effective English language improvement content that advances the lives of native English and English as a Second Language (ESL) speakers by improving their English competence, comprehension, and communication skills. For more information, visit: www.worklifeenglish.com.
Hmm.. guess what? What you explained about how effective phonics are for English language learners regardless of ages, it totally blew my mind. My cousin’s son is about to enter kindergarten next month and I plan to give him a good luck gift. I’ll certainly remember this article so I’ll purchase the right material afterwards. https://debbible.com/product/new-2021-jolly-phonics-student-book-3-jl7243/
I found it interesting when you said that phonics helps beginning English leaders to have a foundational understanding of the distinct sound units of letter combinations and specific letters. This gives me the idea to find a phonics reading program online where I can enroll my 4-year old son. My husband and I have noticed his difficulties reading basic words that could have been easy for him, so we are looking for ways for him to get proper help. Thanks! https://senseable.com/