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We thougt that, unlike your children, you Crinkleys may need a little help to understand what this phonics lark is all about. So we've put a few documents together to give you a flavour of what phonics teachers do in the classroom, so that you can help us to help you and your children make the best start possible to their lifetime. Help them learn to read and learn to write quickly and effectively, with interactive phonics a very large dose of fun.

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learn to blend phonemes

Phonics For Crinklies: A Primer for Parents

28th January, 2007

So what is this phonics lark and why should you, as parents and teachers, care about our little gang of overactive fruits? Well, using a phonics approach, (sometimes called synthetic phonics) learning sjust ixty four sounds and one hundred words, are all it takes to bring confidence and launch a child on a life of literacy.

Phonics Techinques

Phonics is the process of learning to read and write through sounds. There are several types of phonics schemes, we will discuss the ones broadly known as Synthetic Phonics.

  1. Children first learn to recognise the sounds (phonemes) and associated symbols of the phonetic alphabet. There are fourty four of these phonemes in total. These phonemes represent all of the sounds in the English Language. Each individual phoneme corresponds to either a single letter ( called a grapheme), or pair of letters (digraph). These sound letter pairs are termed phoneme - grapheme correspondences.
  2. The learned phoneme - grapheme correspondences are used to combine basic sound units together to construct simple words. This process is called blending or synthesising. In learning how to blend simple phonemes, pupils begin to develop an understanding of the phonetic structure of language. This phonemic skill or phonological awareness, is crucial for developing an ability tolearn to read even unfamiliar words.
  3. Knowing how to blend known phonemes allows students to decode unknown sequences of letters. So they can learn to read new words without being intimidating. These unfamiliar sequences of letters can be 'sounded out or 'logically vocalised' to develop pronunciation. Learning how to say each new phoneme combination allows students to build memory and add context to new words. For example, although children will not immediately be able to understand the meaning of C-A-T, they can decode this phoneme sequence as CAT. In doing so they embed the spelling and pronunciation into memory while developing an understanding of it's meaning.This understanding of phonems and blending is the core of how phonics accelerates the process of learning to read.
  4. Having learned a subset of words through 'sounding out' phonemes, students can then learn to read stories that develop their understandingof language and embed their new knowledge into memory. This is where the 64 phonemes and 100 words comes in. By learning the 44 phonemes plus another twenty other high frequency blends, or familiar phonemes, and developing a solid understanding of the 100 highest frequency words in the English language, students will have access to fifty percent of the vocabualry used in regular English language text.
  5. Not all words in English are phonetically 'regular'. These 'irregular words' cannot be systematically decoded and so must be taught as 'sight' words.
  6. Remember that children already have an oral vocabulary and phonics provides an efficient way for them to begin to translate spoken language into written code.
  7. While blending and decoding are being mastered, students also develop their encoding skills. Recoginising the sounds in spoken word and decoding them into a set of blended phonemes allows them to begin writing down the spoken words. Eventually these phonics skills will extend to writing down familiar known words and expressions, followed by their own thoughts.
  8. Learning to read and write is the foundation of all education. Literacy is the wellspring for every child's personal journey towards accumulating knowledge and attaining higher level thinking skills.

To Recap: Some the main elements of synthetic phonics schemes:

Grapheme - Phoneme correspondences
Learn the 44 phonemes of the English Phonetic Dictionary and the corresponding letter representations (grapheme correspondences)
Phonological/Phonemic Awareness
These words are often used interchangeably and the academics barely agree on precise definitions.
Broadly, Phonological Awareness is the ability to recognise that spoken language is made up of individual sound units syllables and smaller units called phonemes.
Phonemic awareness focuses on the smallest unit of sound, phonemes, and theri position in words. For synthetic phonic programmes the focus is on phonemic awareness. This really boils down to developing a students skill in recognising the individual phonemes that make up the words and their position within the word.
Recognising the individual phonetic sounds
Sounding out
Saying out loud each phonetic componenent of a word
Putting together separate phonic sounds into combinations to form words
Putting together sequences of symbols (graphemes) to represent sounds as written language. This is really the process of writing down phoneme sequences (for regular words).

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