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What is Phonics?

Phonics refers to a method for teaching speakers of English to read and write that language. Children begin learning to read using phonics, usually around the age of 5. Phonics involves teaching how to connect the sounds of spoken English with letters or groups of letters (e.g., that the sound 'k' can be represented by c, k, ck, ch, or q spellings) and teaching them to blend the sounds of letters together, to produce approximate pronunciations of unknown words.

Teaching reading using phonics requires students to learn the connections between letter patterns and the sounds they represent. Phonics instruction requires the parent/teacher to provide students with a core body of information about phonics rules, or patterns. Phonics is simply the system of relationships between letters and sounds in a language. When your young child learns that the letter B has the sound of 'b' and your second-grader learns that 'tion' sounds like 'shun', they are learning phonics.


Why is phonics important?

Learning phonics will help your children learn to read and spell. Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of letters and letter combinations will help your child decode words as they read. Knowing phonics will also help your young children to know which letters to use as they write words.


When is phonics usually taught?

Your child will probably learn phonics in kindergarten through second grade. In kindergarten, children usually learn the sounds of the consonant letters (all letters except the vowels a, e, i, o, and u). First and second graders typically learn all the sounds of letters, letter combinations, and word parts (such as 'ing' and 'ed'). They practise reading and spelling words containing those letters and patterns. Second graders typically review and practise the phonics skills they have learned to make spelling and reading smooth and automatic.


Phonics Alive!

The following activities take place in each module:

• Introduction of Letters

• Sound Discrimination

• Sound-Symbol Relationships 

• Revision.

In some modules there is an introduction to some general three syllable sound blending. Please note that the second program in the series, “Phonics Alive! 2 The Sound Blender” is dedicated to teaching sound blending.


For more information please refer to these articles written by Justine Ferrari in “The Australian” National Newspaper.

Letters and sounds at the core of the new curriculum

NSW makes right sounds on learning to read

National English Curriculum - what all children will learn