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Objectives

  • Learn how to identify students who may be struggling with phonics
  • Structure a lesson plan to help tackle the topic
  • Identify which games or quizzes from our course are best

What are phonics and why do they matter?

Phonemes are sound units.  Learning phonics (how to use these sound units to pronounce words) is important because phonemes teach students to see how letters can represent specific sounds, enabling them to sound out and read new words.  This can be crucial when teaching English as although we have only 26 letters in the English language, there are approximately 40 phonemes to tackle, with over 250 different spellings!  Think of the letter f, represented by the phoneme /f/ which can sound like a ph, an f, a ff or gh (tough, fight, riff).

Almost all words are made up of a number of phonemes which have been blended together.  Take for example the word “ball”, made up of the phonemes /b/ /aw/ /l/.  Each sound affects the meaning of the word- if you took away the /b/ sound and replace it with a /w/ you have a completely different word.  Again, change the /aw/ for an /e/ sound, and the meaning of the word changes completely.  There is evidence to suggest that a good understanding of phonics is the best predictor of a child’s reading ability.

How do I tell if my children are struggling with phonics?

Some students will struggle with phonics, and it is tricky to get the hang of! These students may need a little more time or attention, so make sure they are able to carry on the learning at home to reinforce the lessons.

There are a few simple ways to tell if you have a student struggling with phonics.

  1. Are they able to group words with similar and dissimilar sounds? E.g. Dog, Dad, Sit.
  2. Can they blend or split syllables easily? E.g.  La  dy
  3. Can they blend words into sounds? E.g. M_a_p
  4. Can they break down a word into a sequence of phonemes? E.g.  Dish is made up of three phonemes /d/, /i/, /sh/.
  5. Can they manipulate sounds within words?  E.g. Change D in Dad for B.

Lesson Plan:

Teaching phonics skills is easiest through a process called segmentation and blending.  Segmentation involves separating the word into its individual sounds, identifying what these sounds are, and then blending incorporates the sounds to produce the word.

For example, take the word “dog”.

  • First sound isolation:  “What is the first sound in map?” /m/
  • Second sound isolation: “What is the second sound?” /a/
  • Last sound isolation: “What is the last sound in map?” /p/
  • Completion: “What are all of the sounds you hear in the word ‘map’?” /m/ /a/ /p/
  • Blending: “How do these sounds fit together?” Mmmmmm…..aaaa…. p

When teaching phonics, you might find it useful to use our 176 English Language Games for Children book, which helps explain to students the concept of sound-spelling, as well as allowing students to blend or sound out words using these new sound-spellings.  Following along with the words in the text is helpful as it will then reinforce the learning through visual association with the words.  This means that your students will develop a good verbal and written understanding of the sounds, enabling them to sound out written words with ease through segmenting and blending the text.

Our songs can also be used to teach phonics, as they use words that with similar sounds and syllables (remember earlier when we discussed grouping similar and dissimilar words?) Rather than sitting en-masse and reciting sounds over and over, our games, songs and quizzes encourage your students to actively participate in the class and help make sure that a tricky subject like phonics is still fun and easy to master!

Recap

  • Use the tools above to identify students who are struggling with phonics and may benefit from further assistance.
  • Helping students master segmentation and blending words is the key to conquering phonics!
  • Use our songs, quizzes and games to keep the subject interesting- students who struggle with phonics can quickly be turned off through repetitive reciting of sounds- keep it interesting!

Resources

Hear the phonemic chart

Teaching English Games Quizzes/Activities

ESL Songs

ESL Flashcards for Children

More Resources

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