Understanding Phonics Essay

1597 words - 6 pages

In the academic world reading is like breathing is to life; an absolutely necessary component not only to succeed but to survive. To teach a child to read is to give them an opportunity to achieve their potential and realize their dreams. As teachers we should not only strive to teach children to read but more importantly we should ignite a passion inside of them so that each child wants to read; craving books as if they were food (or video games). Unfortunately in any given group of students a good percentage of them will struggle with reading. The best way to prevent a child from falling behind is early identification and intervention, coupled with a comprehensive scientifically-based literacy program (Sousa, 2005). There are five essential components of such a program: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The goal of this paper is to explain the component of phonics as well as strategies that can be used to incorporate this element into a comprehensive literacy program.
Phonics is the relationships between the sounds of spoken language and the letters used in written language to represent those sounds (NICHD, 2001). “As children become more aware of the sounds in words, they also learn the letters that represent these sounds.” (Ming & Dukes 2010, p.23) Phonics instruction is a way of teaching reading that focuses on letter-sound relationships (Pinnell, 2008). During phonics instruction children are taught letter-sound correspondences and how to use them to spell and read words. The chief goal of phonics instruction is to help beginning readers understand how letters (graphemes) are connected to sounds (phonemes) and that there are systematic and predictable relationships which they can learn how to apply when reading.(NRP,2000)
There are two main approaches to teaching phonics: systematic instruction and incidental instruction.(NPR, 2000) When phonics is taught systematically the teacher provides explicit instruction in which the children are taught letter–sound relationships and build toward whole words, using direct instruction from a specific and sequential curriculum (Mesmer & Griffith, 2005). A range of systematic programs have been designed such as synthetic phonics, analytic phonics, analogy phonics, and phonics through spelling (DeGraff, Bosman, Hasselman & Verhoeven, 2009). Synthetic phonics teaches students to translate letters into sounds and blend the sounds to form words (NRP, 2000). Analytic phonics teaches students to examine letter-sound relationships in words they already know to avoid saying sounds in isolation (NRP, 2000). Analogy Phonics teaches students unfamiliar words by comparing unknown words to known words (NRP, 2000). Phonics through spelling teaches students to break words down by phonemes and spell them according to the phonemes they hear in the word (DeGraff, Bosman, Hasselman & Verhoeven, 2009).
Incidental phonics instruction “does not follow a planned sequence of...

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