Teaching phonics to young children can be challenging for parent and educators. A well designed set of lesson plans will help keep phonics lessons focused and effective. In this article, we will explore the methods and aspects of phonics that should be covered when teaching a child.
1. Letter-Sound Associations
Parents must teach children to assign sounds to letter combinations like “Ba”, “Be”, “Bi”, “Bo” and “Bo”. The possible combinations of consonants and vowels are tremendous, so it would be impossible to cover all of them. However, educators should at least aim to teach their children all the basic consonant + vowel combinations. For a start, teaching the letter sound associations would have to be done by drills or rote learning. On KidsEnglishCollege™ we have a great tool to get you started. We recommend allowing children to pick up more advanced letter combinations like triple letter syllables as a part of their learning instead of through rote or drills.
2. Isolating Sounds
Children must be taught to break up words into natural syllables. After children are able to break up words, they should be encouraged to independently associate sounds to the syllables they have identified. It is best to use words they are already able to pronounce for this exercise, as it gives them some opportunity to guess the correct letter sound associations after they get the first syllable correct. When learning phonics, there are often no “correct” ways to break up words.
For example breaking up the word “cat” into “c” + “at” or “ca” +”t” will give the same pronunciation of the final word. The child must be encouraged to explore and experiment on his or her own.
3. Suffix Sight Identification
Parents have to help their children understand the special relationship vowels have with consonants and how some standard combinations of vowels and consonants will almost always give the same sound when added to the end of any word such as “ath”, “at” and “and”. Being able to identify these by sight, will enable a child to read faster.
4. Silent Letters
Children must be introduced to the concept of silent letters and their influence on how words are pronounced. For example, the most common silent letter is actually “e”, as it appears silently in words like “bake” and “slate”; while the “e” changes the way the word is pronounced, the “e” sound does not actually appear in the word.
Children be taught that some words are all pronounced the same such as:
- dough and doe
- ewe and you
- lessen and lesson
- flu and flew
- byte and bite
This list can go on and is far from being exhaustive. Homophones are an important part of teaching phonics, and will help children with mastering listening comprehension in future.
6. Irregular Words
Young learners must be taught that some words are not pronounced as they are written. For example, “stomach” is actually pronounced as “sta -muck” and not “sta-much”, but “attach” is not pronounced as “at – tuck”. Unfortunately, there is no formula here and the best way to get accustomed to the differences is through exposure to the language.
7. Double Vowels
Parents should explain to children how they should pronounce double vowels and single vowels when they appear in words. At the same time, educators should teach children to expect many double vowel words to be shortened during actual speech. For example, the “oo” in the word “good” is often not dragged out when spoken, but the “oo” in doodle usually is.
The way words get pronounced can change depending on whether US or US English is being spoken. In fact, there are several other forms of English that have their own peculiarities in phonics. Accents may also affect the pronunciation or words and letter sound associations. So it can be said that the rules of English phonics are not exactly cast in stone; children must be encouraged to explore and ask questions to further their mastery of the language.
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