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What is Phonics?

Learn what phonics is from reading specialist Anne Glass in this Howcast video.


Hi. my name is Anne Glass. I'm a reading and learning specialist at a private school in New York City and I work with Kindergarteners through 3rd graders on Reading, Word Study, and Writing Skills. In addition to be a reading specialist and learning specialist, I'm also a parent and today I'm going to talk to you about topics in reading

Phonics refers to the paired associations between sounds and spoken language and letters. It represents the overlap between two areas that I've already talked about today: one being alphabet knowledge and the other being phonemic awareness. If you overlap phonemic awareness and alphabet knowledge, their merger is phonics. It's basically making the connection between sounds and spoken language and how you represent them in written language. Phonics also refers to a method of reading instruction in which orthographic spelling patterns and decoding skills are explicitly and systematically taught with repeated practice. Children need to be explicitly taught spelling rules and orthographic patterns because English, 90% of the time, is a phonetically regular language. And so if we teach children what those paired correspondences are between letters and sounds, then they are going to be better equipped to spell the words that they want to write, and read unfamiliar words that they encounter in text. Explicit instruction and sound symbol correspondences is so foundational to word-level reading and should not be overlooked.

When students encounter unfamiliar words, they should have at their disposal a vast supply of strategies with which they can attack that word. It's never enough to suggest to a student to guess at the word based on the initial letter and context clues or a picture. Guessing is what we do when we have inefficient strategies. And so if we have prepared our students with phonics rules, then there will be no need to guess at words.

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