A Step at a Time
The Different Types of Phonics
There are a number of different phonics approaches, the main ones are discussed below.
This type of phonics approach is not used systematically but simply in those 'teachable moments' that arise. It is used in conjunction with whole language teaching. For more information about what 'whole language' means you could visit the Wikipedia site through this link.
Embedded phonics is commonly used when it has been noticed that a particular child (or a group of children) are having a problem with a certain word/sound in their book.
The teacher may stop the reading to teach the child/ren that particular sound.
With synthetic phonics children are taught to read and spell at the same time. They are taught to convert letters into sounds and then blend the sounds to form words. For example c-a-t = cat, or sh-oo-k = shook. It also teaches children to segment (pull apart) those sounds in order to spell. For example dot = d-o-t, or cheek = ch-ee-k.
Children are taught the sounds of the English language and other common 'rules'. They are taught to understand the alphabet code so that when they come across an unknown word they do not guess from context, picture, initial letters or word shape. They are explicitly taught to use their knowledge to independently and confidently work out new words.
With synthetic phonics children are not exposed to words that they do not have the knowledge to decode. This ensures that they are constantly successful.
With analytical phonics children are likely to be asked to analyse a particular sound within a word or words. So for example a teacher may place up on the board a list of words such as: 'cloud', 'house', 'loud' and 'mouse'. The teacher will then draw the children's attention to the common sound that she wishes them to note, in this case the 'ou' sound.
Children will not be asked to blend the sounds together to form words like they are in synthetic phonics. Instead they will start with the whole word and then analyse a part of it (the complete opposite of synthetic phonics).
In analytical phonics children will also be taught many consonant blends, for example: 'br', 'st' and 'bl'.
This approach, like embedded phonics, is commonly used alongside whole language teaching.
This is a type of analytical phonics. It might also be called 'chunks' or 'word families' as it looks at a 'chunk' of a word/s. For example a teacher might be looking at a group of words that end with 'at', 'an' or 'ip'. The first sound may be added or changed to make different words: c-an, f-an, m-an or r-an like the example given below.
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DID YOU KNOW...
That whilst the letters 'c' and 'k' make the same sound, they have very different roles?
Consider this role... When a 'c' is next to an 'i', an 'e' or a 'y' it changes its sound from 'cuh' to 'sss'. Think of the words: city, rice and cycle.
So if we want to spell the word 'kitten', but try to use the letter 'c' for the 'cuh' sound, what will happen? Yes, it will become 'sitten'. Think of some other words: like, kite, skip, lake, kid... What will happen?
IN A NUTSHELL
Synthetic - Comes from the word synthesising, meaning to put together.
Digraph - Two letters which together make one sound e.g. th.
Trigraph - Three letters such as: 'air' or 'oar' which together make one sound.
Blends - Unlike a digraph where the group of letters together make one sound, blends letters make their own individual sounds e.g. br, str.