The basic skills taught in any educational institute include 3R’s namely; Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. To be able to be good at reading, children first need to learn the letters of the English alphabet. Often there is a confusion between what to teach first, the letter names or the letter sounds. Well let us delve deeper into this topic and help you figure out a solution.
Letter Names vs. Letter Sounds
We are aware that the English alphabet has 26 letters and each letter is identifiable by a name. However, simply knowing the letter names doesn’t help the child read the words correctly or make any meaning out of it. Let’s say for example the word is ‘apple’ and the child hasn’t learnt the letter sounds yet, so he will pronounce the word oddly, much like ‘ay-pee-pee-el- e’. Well that doesn’t sound right!
Let us now understand what are letter sounds. Letterland Phonics is a globally acceptable model to bring phonemic awareness amongst children. As per this concept, though there are only 26 letters, Phonics requires us to learn 44 sounds. The aim is to help children decode the letters into sounds, so that children can read and pronounce the word correctly. These sounds are introduced to the child in a phased manner. And it doesn’t begin from A and end at Z but follows the below pattern:
- Set 1: s, a, t, p
- Set 2: i, n, m, d
- Set 3: g, o, c, k
- Set 4: ck, e, u, r
- Set 5: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss
- Set 6: j, v, w, x
- Set 7: y, z, zz, qu
- Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng
- Vowel digraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er
Matching letters to sounds can help the child come to reading and writing faster and hence knowing ‘letter sounds’ is more important than figuring out letter names. Without knowing the spelling of top if the child tries to read the work and pronounce each sound correctly, he will be able to decode the word /t/ /o/ /p/ without much hassle. Most schools in the UAE as also Dubai, introduce children to Phonics at an early age. Children as young as 3-year-old can begin exploring ‘phonetic sounds’ and come to reading words within 4-5 months of duration.
Some Advantages of Learning Phonics
Research has proved that a systematic approach to learning English through Phonics is way better than any other approaches. The gradual transition from first learning letter sounds, then moving to blending & segmentation, and later understanding tricky words along the way has shown considerable results. Here are some top benefits of learning Phonics:
Builds Reasoning Skills
Phonics enables children to avoid rote learning. Before the introduction of this lovely Phonics methodology, students would be burdened to rote learn the spellings of hundreds of words to be able to come to reading and correlating the spell to the word. Thanks to Phonics, even 4 years olds have the power to reason, comprehend, and apply their knowledge in a systematic manner to quickly come to reading.
Correlation to Printed Symbols Gets Better
Having good phonemic awareness and knowing what rule to apply helps the preschoolers to identify printed symbols, manipulate letter symbols, and use appropriate sounds while reading. Their diction improves and the choice of words they use while talking enhances manifold. Polished language skills go a long way in building confidence and shaping overall personalities of children.
Improves Reading Fluency
Since children already have a good pool of vocabulary by the time they reach Set 4 – Set 5 of the Phonetic lessons, they are able to read most 4-5 letter words and make meaningful connections of sentences in a book. To support the young reader’s learning journey further, Reading Eggs offers lessons, games and e-books to allow children to practice Phonics and apply their skills to become better with each fun activity. Most parents and schools across Middle East & GCC endorse the level of improvement they have seen in children by encouraging them to practice on the Reading Eggs platform.
Sets a Foundation for Learning Grammar
Children can level-up by learning Jolly Phonics Grammar rules. After children have achieved a good hold on basic phonics, they can proceed to learning parts of a speech by signing-up for Jolly Grammar lessons. This helps children be more diversified in language and build their writing skills in a structured manner. The curriculum is designed to include parts of speech, punctuation, tenses past, present, & future, and plurals.
Now that you have a fair understanding of the importance of Phonics, it is advisable to start soon in order to inculcate a love for reading, writing, and verbal comprehension amongst youngsters. You would be further enthused by Phonic lessons when your child happily mimics action sounds and narrates Letterland stories to you.