Investigation Phonetic Languages: What Are Phonics?

765 words - 4 pages

This paper investigates the Phonics approach as a key element in achieving high literacy outcomes in the early years. English language is a phonetic language which means that spoken words are represented by symbolic letter strings. It is made up of five components; pragmatics, semantics, syntax, phonology and vocabulary. Phonology relates to the spoken sounds made in language of which the phoneme is the smallest component. Phonological awareness is an umbrella term which enables the manipulation of words, syllables and sounds introspectively. Important aspects of phonological awareness are intonation, stress and timing (Hill, 2013). Children develop phonological awareness through oral ...view middle of the document...

There has been much debate about the use of phonics as a teaching strategy, particularly by proponents of the whole language approach, and most notably in the academic arena. One reason given is that graphemes and their associated phonemes, by themselves, lack meaning, therefore phonics instruction doesn’t impart or instruct the extraction of meaning from words in text (Adams, 1990, p. 239). This has led to a perception that phonics and whole language approaches are diametrically opposed (Stahl, 1998, p. 339). However a survey of teachers’ methods has shown that at the “coal face”, early primary school teachers are using a balanced, eclectic palette of skills and resources from both approaches, taking a pragmatic approach by using whatever works to help the diverse range of students they are working with each year (Baumann, Hoffman, Moon & Duffy-Hester, 1998). On the surface this may seem to be more equitable, but eclectic programs with ad-hoc phonics components can have as little value as programs without any phonics instruction at all (Stahl, 1998, p. 339). If a balanced approach is to be successful, then its phonics component needs to be taught first, early, systematically and explicitly (Adams, 1990).

Children transition through different literacy phases: Beginning (0-3 years), early emergent (3-5 years), emergent (kindergarten-prep), early (prep-year 1), transitional (years 1-2) and extending (years 2-4). Research shows that in the beginning to early emergent...

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