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Phonics: How children learn to read

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 2124 words Published: 4th May 2017

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Phonics is probably one of the most important parts on how children learn to read. I will discuss the 12 key concepts from the National Reading Panel’s report on phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. I will also go over how phonemic awareness and phonics instruction can support a balanced reading program.

How sounds are used in words is very important to teach students to learn to read. Students need to know that words are made up of phonemes and that they need instruction to help them learn about phonemes. Students will learn to read when phonemic awareness is taught and student needs to know how to manipulate phonemes by using letters of alphabet. I believe that most students can learn to read using phonemic instruction.

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There are several ways a student can demonstrate phonemic awareness. When a student can segment words into separate sounds such as /c/ /a/ /t/ is one way. Another way is when the student can identify that a set of words begins with the same sound, such as dog, day and down. These words begin with the letter /d/. Thirdly when a student can isolate and say the first or last sound in a word, such as beginning sound of the word fun is /f/ or the ending sound of fat is /t/. Lastly another way to show awareness is if a student can combine sounds in words like /h/ /a/ /t/ to make the word hat. If students demonstrate these skills they will be way ahead in learning to read and spell.

Phonemic awareness and phonic sound like they are the same thing, but I will explain the difference between the two. First, phonics is the relationship between letters and sounds in written language. Phonemic awareness is the sounds of spoken language that work together to form words. But phonemic awareness is taught in phonics instruction, so they do work together. Phonemic awareness students will be able identify and manipulate individual sounds in words while in phonological awareness students will be able to recognize parts of spoken language. This usually will include rhyming, and rime, alliteration, intonation and syllables. Some examples of phonemic awareness are when a student can identify a word such as /h/ /a/ /t/. In phonological awareness students will be able to identify the word frog as /fr/ /o/ /g/ or /fr/ or /og/

When a student can start identifying, making oral rhymes such as, rat and cat, the student is showing they have phonological awareness. Another great example when the student can identify and work with onset and rime in syllables, for example hip and it. Also, a student can clap a word so they can hear the syllables in the spoken word. They can use a word they like or their name, such as Kay-lin. Lastly, a student can identify and work with individual phonemes in spoken words like the first sound in hat.

To teach phonemic awareness a teacher can use many techniques. The first example is phoneme isolation. This is where the student will be able to recognize individual sounds in a word. A student will understand that the first sound in hat is /h/. Another example a teacher can use is phoneme identify where a student will be able to recognize the same sound in different words. For example the words tall, talk and toad is /t/. Thirdly is phoneme categorization. This is when a student will be able to recognize a word in a set of words that will have a different sound. In a set of words like, fly, fun and sit, will not fit because the word does not start with /f/. The fourth one I will discuss is phoneme blending. Phoneme blending is when a student will be able to listen to a sequence of separately spoken phonemes, combine the phoneme to make a word, write and read the word. Students who will hear a sound like /f/ /a/ /t/ and will know the word is that as well as write the word. Fifth, is phoneme segmentation. This is where a student will be able to break apart a word into separate sounds. For example the student can tap their foot or count the word out such as /f/ /r/ /o/ /g/. The student will understand that the word frog has four sounds. Then the student will be able to write and read the word. Phoneme deletion is the sixth way. This is when a student recognizes a word that remains when a phoneme is removed to form another word. For example a student given the word small and can recognize that mall is the word remaining when the phoneme /s/ is removed. The seventh is phoneme addition. This is when a student can make a totally new word by adding a phoneme to an existing word. For example, the word “an” and then told to add the letter /c/ to the beginning and the word now is “can”. The eighth one is phoneme substitution. This is when a student will be able to substitute one phoneme for another to make a new word. A student may be given a word such as hot and asked to change the /t/ to a /p/. Now the student will say the word, “hop”. After the above techniques are learned the student will have phonemic awareness.

A student will improve their reading and spelling with phonemic awareness instruction. Phonemic awareness will also help increase a student’s vocabulary knowledge. Segmenting words is one way to have the student learn to read and it will also help them to spell. Being able to read accurately is very important for students to be able comprehend what they just read and the students need to stay focused on the meaning of what they are reading. Phonemic awareness is key for a student to be able to understand what they read. It will also help to reduce the stress of sounding out words and having the student taking too many pauses and losing focus of where they are at when reading.

A student being able to manipulate phonemes will show that that he or she is becoming phonemically aware. A student will be able to improve how they spell and read if the student is taught that sounds and letters are used in phonemic awareness to reading and writing. It is very important not to teach several of the methods listed above all at once. As a teacher we do not want to confuse our students. It is a great idea to focus on a couple of the techniques until they can master those and then move on to other techniques if needed. Also, we need to be careful to use techniques that will be at the student literacy level. Again, if we teach above the student’s level, the student can become very irritated, and if taught below their level they may become bored and their behavior may change.

I believe that teaching phonemic awareness is very effective when it is taught in small groups. Students thrive in this type of setting because they like to hear what their classmates are doing or what their classmates’ think of their work especially if it is positive. Of course phonemic instruction will not guarantee a student will be a successful reader but it sure will help with success.

Now I will go over seven key concepts that the NRP has on phonics instruction. Phonics instruction teaches relationship between letters and sounds. This helps students learn and use the alphabetic principals so students will comprehend that there are predictable and systematic relationship between written letters and spoken sounds. This also will help student remember how to read words with phonics instruction.

The first and probably the most effective concept is systematic and explicit phonics. Phonics instruction teaches students letter sound relationship. This will aid the students in practicing and applying phonics to materials they can use like books that will have several words. This will help the student to decode letter sound relationships with spelling words or in writing.

Secondly, the next concept is that kindergarten and first grade students can be successful with word recognition and spelling will improve with systematic and explicit phonics instruction. When a student uses phonics instruction in early childhood there is a greater chance of success that they will be able to read at their current grade level or above. They will also probably be able to write, thus having students to have better comprehension skills.

The third concept is to improve student reading comprehension. This can be done with systematic and explicit phonics instruction. If a student can read with fluency and less stopping, the student will be able to understand what they are reading. If student has to keep stopping to sound out words, the student can lose track of what they just read. Again, the earlier the better

The fourth concept is that students from various social economic levels need systematic and explicit phonics instruction. This is basically saying that all students can learn to read this way regardless of their socioeconomically background. I do think it may be more difficult for students to keep up if they do not have guidance at home.

The fifth concept is that students who are having difficulty learning to read and who are at risk for developing future reading problems need systematic and explicit phonics instruction. The idea behind this concept that students who are at risk can be benefited from this because words will become automatic helping students to read quickly with more accuracy.

The sixth concept is that when systematic and explicit phonics instruction is introduced early that it can be very effective. Teachers need to make sure that phonic skills are introduced at grade level or age appropriateness. For example a student in kindergarten may be using letter shapes and letter sounds.

Lastly, the seventh concept is that this is not a complete reading program. Students still need learn and have knowledge in alphabet engaging phonemic tasks and having a teacher read to them so they can gain listening skills as well. I know that my third grade son is just now starting to read books on his own and this is giving him confidence in able to read other materials. His teacher also is still reading to the whole class. He is also writing stories on his own.

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Now I will go over the five parts of a balanced reading program. They are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension. These all will help students to understand phonemic awareness if they learn to segment words into syllables. Students will also be able to blend phonemes and manipulate phonemes to form new words, thus helping them to read and comprehend.

Hopefully students will be given opportunities to apply what they learn about phonics in everyday living. Phonics will help the student with word recognition, spelling and reading comprehension. I currently work in a 3rd /4th grade classroom and I notice when a student is struggling to read fluently, they are having a difficult time understanding what they are reading. So students need to have this type of behavior modeled for them and students need to practice reading out loud. This way a teacher can evaluate and set goals. The more fluidly they are when they read, the more they will want to read.

Vocabulary is very important as well. It is crucial for students to be able to communicate so they can get their ideas and thoughts across clearly. It will also help if they know what the words mean when they are reading them. Students can learn vocabulary in many areas of their lives. They can listen to their peers, their parents and siblings. Teachers and parents can also make sure the student is reading on a daily basis. Also, a teacher can directly teach vocabulary words.

Lastly we will discuss text comprehension. This is one area my son struggles with. He is now being able to read faster and this is helping actually understand what he is reading. His teacher has been giving him strategies to help him read his text through cooperative learning, explicit instruction and silent reading.

Becoming an educator, when I use these techniques, I will be able to help my students to be successful in reading and writing. After being in a classroom for the last two years I understand that these techniques are imperative and must be implemented in the classroom. Like I tell my children in sports “practice if you want to get better”. I will make sure my students will have access to interesting reading materials and I will have them doing many writing tasks. The great thing about phonics is that it can be taught individually or in groups. A teacher should take notice though if a student needs more help than other students. Again, the earlier a child begins to use phonics the better chance of a successful reader.


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