What Is Phonics?
Phonics refers to a method used to teach speakers of English how to spell and read. There are many schemes for teaching phonics in schools. At Eastburn Junior and Infant School we use 'Letters & Sounds'.
Here are links to a few websites with phonic games which your child might enjoy at home.
It is generally accepted that most varieties of spoken English use about 44 different sounds, these different sounds are called phonemes.
Phonemes can be represented by either a single letter or a group of letters called a grapheme. In the English language there are 120 graphemes that can be formed using the 26 letters of the alphabet. A grapheme can be formed using 1, 2, 3 or 4 letters. The following are all graphemes. s / t / ai / eigh / igh.
Graphemes formed from more than one letter have special names. A grapheme formed by combining two letters is a digraph (ch, sh, ai, oo), three letters is a trigraph (igh), there are even some graphemes formed from 4 lettes, a quadgraph (ough, eigh, aigh).
Now things get a little trickier...
Some graphemes represent more than one phoneme. For example 'ch' makes very different sounds in these words, cheese, school, chef / 'i' in milk and mind / 'ea' in bread and mean.
Also, a phoneme can represent different graphemes. For example the following words all contain the /ai/ phoneme, but it is represented by a different grapheme in each word.
Angel, late, lay, eight, straight.
(Note: Letters within slashes // represent the sound)
In phonics lessons children are taught three main things.
This stands for grapheme phoneme correspondences. This means that they are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down. These sounds are taught in a particular order. The first sounds taught are s, a, t, p.
Children are taught to be able to blend. This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This skill is vital in learning to read.
Children are also taught to segment. This is the opposite to blending. Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This skill is vital in being able to spell words.