what about phonics?

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  • What About Phonics? Murray State University

  • Why Johnny Cant ReadIn 1955 Rudolph Flesch said Teach the child what each letter stands for and he can read. Lots of people still say this today. Do you think this is true?

  • A Strategies ApproachGood readers use a variety of strategies to figure out unfamiliar words. They:Think about what would make senseThink about what would sound rightLook at what it starts with and think about what makes senseLook at parts of the word they knowRead on to the end of the sentenceRereadSkip it

  • Dont we ever say, Sound it out?NO! WHY NOT?The English language is not a strictly phonetic language. Many, many words do not follow rules and cannot be sounded out.There are consistencies, but NOT when you try to sound it out letter by letter from left to right.


  • Does reading proceed from left to right?hat hatebit bitecut cute mop moping

  • Can you decode these words?philomightchailosophouswhibelitiouschiricean

    What did you do to decode these words? Did you sound them out, one letter at a time, from left to right?

  • A person who attempts to scan left to right, letter by letter, pronouncing as he goes, could not correctly read most English words.

    - Venezky, The Structure of English Orthography

  • Is English a Phonetic System?In a strictly phonetic system, each sound is represented by one consistent symbol, and each symbol always represents that sound.A always says /a/; /a/ is only represented by a.

  • Is English a Phonetic System?What sound does o make?potsoonewomennow

  • Is English a Phonetic System?What sound does t make?Topnationthinknature

  • Do phonics rules work?move, love, stovebreak, bread, freak

  • Does this rule work?When two vowels go walking the first one does the talking.YES - nail, bead, pie, boatNO - said, head, chief, build% usefulness: 45

  • Does this rule work?When a word ends in vowel+consonant+e, the e is silent and other vowel is long.YES - cake, late, bone, JuneNO - have, come, move, bare% usefulness - 63

  • Does this rule work?Two ees together make a long e sound.YES - fee, see, feeling, wheel% - 98

  • Does this rule work?The combination oa makes a long o sound.YES - boat, coal, toast% - 97

  • How would you pronounce these?PhrankChrightPholightlygeroymalityrepantenable

  • Implications for instruction:Systematic, intensive phonics (following a phonics program which emphasizes phonics rules taught in isolation) teaches children that English is a phonetic system. They expect sounding out to work.

  • Implications for instruction:Children need to know that phonics rules dont always work but may give you an approximation.

  • Implications for instruction:Children need to have other strategies for figuring out wordsWhat makes sense? Reading on, re-reading, looking at the pictureChunking - Do any parts of this work look like other words I know?

  • Implications for instruction:Children need to be taught phonics in context, so they can see how to use phonics in tandem with other cues.

  • Implications for instruction:Children need to be shown the consistencies:consonants are more consistent than vowels;blends and digraphs are quite consistent;

  • Implications for instruction:Children need to be shown the consistencies:Spelling patterns (rimes) are very consistent: -ake, -all

  • Implications for instruction:Suggested teaching order:1. Phonemic awareness rhymes, what word starts the same as2. Single consonants - b, d, f3. Consonant blends and digraphs - th, sh, ch4. Vowels: spelling patterns (rimes)5. Vowels: digraphs (oy, oi, ow, etc.)

  • Implications for instruction:Teach spelling patterns (rimes)all, ball, fall, wall, tall, smallsail, snail, hail, tailway, say, day, play, baylight, fight, sight, slight,ride, hide, tide, pride, slide

  • Video: Using onsets and rimesAs you watch, write down ideas that you can use in your classroom.

  • To sum up: Recent research has shown thatmost readers figure out unfamiliar words by analogy they think of words they know with similar chunks in them.children have trouble hearing individual sounds within words but can readily hear and identify chunks of words.most phonics rules do not work much of the time, but chunks of letters are much more consistent!

  • So, phonics instruction should focus on helping children identify these chunks.Onsets are the letter(s) before the vowel.

    Consonants: c, d, f, g, h, j, Blends and digraphs: th, sh, ch br, tr, str, Rimes are the vowel and letters after the vowel (in one-syllable words).

    -ake -ame ike -ain -ing -ack -an -at, etc.


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