Phonics and you Essay

This essay has a total of 2283 words and 11 pages.

phonics and you



PHONICS

BY:
Destiny Abshire










“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.
Continues for 6 more pages >>




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