Phonics Instruction

Many beginning teachers and parents confuse phonemic awareness and phonics. They often feel that they are one in the same. However, while the two are closely connected, they are different.

When teaching phonics there are many different programs and approaches that can be used. Several of the approaches overlap and intertwine with one another.

During phonics instruction the teacher focuses more on the relationship between written letters and spoken sounds.

Some different approaches include:

Synthetic Phonics: In this approach the students are instructed how to change written terms into sounds to form words.
Analytic Phonics: In this form of phonics children work with words that have already been learned. They analyze the words to gain an understanding of the sounds. This type of phonics typically do not use individual sounds.

Analogy-based Phonics: When using this approach the children use pieces of words that they have learned from instruction on word families. They use these pieces to figure out and read unfamiliar words that contain the same pieces.

Phonics through Spelling: Here students break the words into individual phonemes and write words.

Embedded Phonics: This approached combines phonics within reading. The children learn sound relationships through the text that they are reading.

Onset-rime Phonics: Children learn by identifying the onset (sound before the vowel) and rime (vowel and everything after).

Programs that are systematic seem to have a greater success over nonsystematic approaches of phonics. In systematic approaches students learn a defined letter sound relationship. This set, of course, includes letters of the alphabet but also major vowel and consonant relationships. The systematic approaches also include materials for the student to read or complete. The students are given an opportunity to apply what they have learned.

In addition to aiding students in learning to read, it has also been shown that using a systematic and explicit phonics approach can improve a student’s reading comprehension.

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