Phonics And You Essay, Research Paper
?Phonics isn?t a method of teaching reading; it?s a body of knowledge consisting of 26 letters used to symbolize about 44 English speech sounds. There are 70 most common spellings for these speech sounds.?(National Right to Read Foundation). Phonetics is ?the science dealing with speech sounds.?(Gans). ?Studying Phonetics means studying a phonetic alphabet, diacritical marks, technical terms, and many other scientific tools and techniques.?(Heilman). Phonetics would be really difficult to teach small children to read. In the early 1900?s those who believed in using the phonetic method invented a way of doing so without using any special symbols or special terminology; now phonics is used all over the country as an aid to help people to read and understand the English language.
The method of phonics is this: First, ones teacher will make him aware of the individual sounds he makes when he talks. Second, the teacher will show him the letter symbols that represent each of those sounds. Third, the teacher will teach him how to write these symbols and combine them into words and at the same time how to read them. In Linguistics of Reading Charles C. Fries says:
?The major spelling patterns of present-day English are fortunately few in number, but for these the reader must develop, through long practice, high-speed recognition responses. These responses must become so habitual that practically all the clues that simulate them eventually sink below the threshold of attention leaving only the accumulative comprehension of the meaning.?(Fries)
Charles Fries tries to get people to understand how to read at a rapid rate without stopping to comprehend the meaning of the word. The method of phonics attempts to get people to, slowly but surely, read at a rate that they would not have been able to without the use of this method.
Dr. Frank C. Laubach, famous for his work in teaching half the world how to read and write, always starts by working out a phonetic alphabet for the language he deals with, and then teaches the natives in very short order how to read and write it. In his book Teaching the World to Read he writes of the relevance of the method to the most widely spoken dialect of the Philippines. He says it becomes easy, for a man with average intelligence to learn to read in one day by using these lessons. Many people have learned to read all of the letters in two hours, some even in one hour. This turns out to be possible if you have a language with a perfectly phonetic alphabet where teaching to read and write is no problem at all.
?The superior way to advance children?s ability to blend speech sounds, as they decode written words, is to begin to develop their conscious awareness of speech sounds (phonemic awareness) as early as preschool.?(Dr. Groff). How many sounds are there? Scientists do not fully agree on that point; not everybody speaking English makes the same sounds. There exists a way to arrive at a mean: ?Count the items in the pronunciation key of an ordinary desk-size dictionary or hand book of English and see how many different sounds have a special symbol assigned to them.?(Flesch). From these two sources you get forty-four sounds that can be distinguished in English. There is only twenty-six letters in the English language; three of them are extra, C, Q, and X. That
means there is actually twenty-three letters to represent forty-four sounds. That is why there is a problem with whole reading.
One learns by learning the letters or letter combinations that stands for each of the forty-four sounds. Twenty-five of the forty-four sounds are consonants. Eighteen of these come in pairs, soft and hard; They consist of:
?B and p as in bib and pup.
D and t as in dad and toot.
G and k as in gag and kick.
V and f as in valve and fluff.
Z and s as in zig-zag and Sis.
Th (soft) and th (hard) as in thither and thistle.
W and wh as in wayward and whistle.
J and ch as in jam and choo-choo-train.
Zh and sh as in treasure and trash.
Then there are six consonants often called semivowels: l as in lull, m as in ma?m, n as in nun, r as in rare, y as in yo-yo, and ng, which is not a combination of n and g but an altogether different sound.? (Dr. Christman)
Now let?s look at the remaining nineteen vowel sounds and the symbols that represent them in writing. These sounds consist of five groups: First, there are the five so-called short vowels, as in bag, beg, big, bog, and bug. Second, there are the five so-called long vowels as in mate, mete, mite, mote, mute. Next, we have three diphthongs: au as in Paul and crawl, ou as in spouse and cow, and oi as in noise and boy. Next, a long and a short oo, as in Rube and Boob, and whoosh and push. Next, the sound of ah as in pa and ma, bar and car. Next, two r vowels: air as in fair heirs dare swear, and er as in girls prefer fur. Finally, the muttering vowel we use in unaccented syllables regardless of the spelling: the in drama, the e in item, the I in devil, the o in button, the u in circus. That makes all forty-four sounds of the English language; it is not a perfect system, but can be explained and taught.
There are two main things wrong with our alphabet and our system of spelling. One remains to be that we have only about half as many letters as we have sounds, which means half the symbols a child has to learn consists of two letters not one; the other trouble is that some of our most important single letters are used to spell two or more entirely different sounds, the five vowels and the consonants c and g. If one wants to teach a child to read without confusing him, you have to start him with single letters that stand for single sounds, then go on to sounds spelled by two letters or three letters, and then teach him that some of the letters do not spell one sound but two. ?You have to try to teach a child to read without letting him read words.?(Blumenfeld). One can do this by teaching him the five vowels; each of the vowels spells a long and a short vowel, so you ought to begin to teach the child the short vowels only.
There are five steps that all important methods of the past share in common:
?Step One: The five short vowels and all consonants spelled by single letters.
Step Two: Consonants and consonant combinations spelled with two or three letters.
Step Three: Vowels and vowel combinations spelled with two or three letters.
Step Four: The five long vowels.
Step Five: Irregular spellings.?(Gans)
These five steps occur in all phonic systems of teaching a child to read English. There seems to be some people that call themselves phonic readers but do not follow this pattern, but they can not be called phonic by any proper definition of the word. Here is a simple system that most people would agree on when using phonics; it remains to be the most common system used ever offered to the public.
You begin by teaching the letters a, e, i, o, u and their short vowel sounds. The easiest way to do this consists by showing him each letter with a picture of a familiar object whose name begins with the short vowel. With the five short vowels teach only seventeen of the consonants: b, d, f, g, h, j, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, y, and z. Again, one could use the pictures to represent the letters. Teach only one use of the letters; like with g only teach the hard g as in girl, and try to avoid the soft g as in gem. ?To fix these twenty-two sounds and letters in their memory, have them read and write from dictation as many one-syllable words as possible that contain these sounds.?(Dr. Christman). This stage is very important because it teaches children that words are written by putting down letters from left to right, and that you read them in the same direction. After the child has
learned to read these words without difficulty give him one more simple consonant sound, k. The teacher should tell him that before a, o, and u the sound is spelled c, but before e and i it is spelled k; after a short vowel it is spelled ck.
The second step combines consonant sounds. ?Those at the end of a word will be easier for him than those at the beginning of a word.?(Groff) Start with two-letter consonant combinations at the end of a word. Then explain the rule about the
letter s at the end of a word: after the consonants f, k, p, and t, it stands for the hissing ss sound, but after all other sounds it stands for the z sound. Next, the instructor should teach him the following consonant combinations at the end of words: ng as in ring, nk as in pink, x as in fox, sh as in fish. Then take up consonant combinations at the beginning of words. To teach these he should give the child words that become other words when a second consonant is put in front: lap and slap, ring and bring, rug and drug, nip and snip. Finally take the sound of ch and explain to him that it is usually spelled ch at the beginning of a word and tch at the end.
Step three teaches vowels and vowel combinations spelled with two letters. First, the ee sound as in sheep or ea as in meal. You can also tell the child about words that sound alike but are spelled differently to distinguish between different meanings, like meet and meat. Next you teach the child the oo sound, short as in book and look. The ah sound as in car; the or sound as in lord; the er sound as in bird; the oi sound as in oil; the ou sound as in house; the au sound as in Paul; the ai sound as in pair; the long i sound as
in pie; the long o sound as in boat; and finally the long u sound as in true blue. Now the child should have a big reading and writing vocabulary.
Step four should teach the child the long vowel sounds. The easiest way to do this is ?to show him the effect of a silent e added to a word as in fad-fade.?(Heilman). After the silent e you ought to teach the child that the syllable ing will also make th vowel
sound long; also explain that if you want to keep the vowel sound short you have to double the final consonant before adding ing. Next teach him the final y as in lady; explain to him that the double-consonant rule applies here too. The teacher ought to teach him that the plural of lady is ladies; tell him about lazy, lazier, laziest, and lazily. Tell him when you take up an ed ending the double-consonant rule is used; as in matted. Then tell him that er and le use the double-consonant rule; as in rubber and settle. Finally, the teacher should teach that ce as in rice, ge as in age, se as in cheese, and the as in loathe. Also give him some examples of dge as in badge. The child should have learned to read and write practically all the words that follow some spelling rules.
The fifth step helps him learn sion, tion, ight, ought and caught, silent k in knife, silent w in write, silent t in whistle, silent l in calf, silent g in gnu, head and bread, word and worm, chief and thief, break and steak, and so on?. ?This method is guaranteed. A child who has been taught this way can read. Millions of children taught the other way can?t?(Trela).
Phonics according to The National Right to Read Foundation is not a method of teaching reading; it?s a body of knowledge consisting of 26 letters used to symboize
about 44 English speech sounds. There are 70 most common spellings for these speech sounds. Thanks to the people who believed in phonetics we now have a great way for
children and adults to learn phonics and in the end learn to read the English language fluently.
Groff, Dr. Patrick. Blending Speech Sounds: A Neglected Phonics Skill. National Right to Read Foundation.The Plains,Va. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flesch, Rudolf. Why Johnny Can?t Read. New York: Harper & Row., 1955.
Fries, Charles C. Linguistics and Reading. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1962, 1963.
Gans, Roma. Common Sense in Teaching Reading. Indianapolis and New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1963.
Trela, Thaddeus M. Sensible Phonics. Belmont. California: Fearon Publishers., 1975
Heilman, Arthur W. Phonics in Proper in Prospective. Columbus, Ohio: Charles E. Merrill Books, inc.,1964.
Christman, Dr. Ernest. Learn to Read. Tempe. Arizona: Blue Bird Publishing., 1990.
Blumenfeld, Samuel L. The New Illiterates. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House., 1973.