Why is FongyPhonics Important?

Children need to be taught to read. They do not 'pick up' reading when they are ready.

Every finding/ research project consistently shows that in an alphabetic language such as English, phonetics is the best method because units of print correspond to units of speech.

To be able to read a child must:

  1. be aware that spoken words are made up of separate sounds and be able to identify them (known as phonological awareness). Adult illiterates do not process this phonological awareness of word structures;
  2. learn the writing system. This ability to recognise letter shapes and correspond these to speech sounds.

For early reading success which promotes confidence and motivation a student must be taught

  1. sound (phoneme) awareness;
  2. recognise letter sound associations.

Another important aspect of reading success, and one which is rarely given, is the instruction in phoneme segmenting skills where the student develops the auditory discrimination necessary in detecting the separate sounds within a spoken word. Research (Bakkeret al., 1990; Brouininks; 1969; Hynd, 1992) found that to become a good reader auditory skills are more important than visual skills. This is why, with FongyPhonics, the building of sounds and the spelling back of those same sounds is so important to develop these auditory skills.

Non-readers initially treat words as if they are pictures instead of examining the letters in a left to right sequence (Byrne & Fielding-Barnsley, 1989; Ehri, 1992; Gough & Hillinger, 2980). FongyPhonics even in its first book tends not to allow this to happen because the student has to sound each phoneme and then say the correct word before having the reinforcement of the pictures which will be on the next page. Studies show (Singh & Solman, 1990; Solman & Kehoe, 1992) that combining the word with the picture on the same page results in young children concentrating on the picture to the detriment of word decoding.

The illustrations in the FongyPhonics books are not used as aids to reading, and this does not allow the student to guess, reinforcing correct reading independent of the pictures.

Remember: The definition of reading in the dictionary is, ‘the decoding of the printed word by means of phonic analysis.’

Reading is not about making up stories to fit in with the picture. This is why FongyPhonics, with its structured, regular, systematic progression from simple sounds to more complex diagraphs and blends, still using regular phonetically spelt words, is essential before any irregular spelt words are introduced.

Children find it easier to synthesise (blend) individual phonemes than to analyse (sound back) in spelling (Perfetti, Beck, Bell & Hughes, 1987; Torgensen, Morgan & Davis, 1992). This is why in the FongyPhonics books children should not be allowed to progress on to the next book before they can spell each word correctly either initially by saying the sounds of the letters in the correct sequence or by typing in the words on to the keyboard.

(Students must not be forced to write words down before they have completed a course of instruction in letter formation because bad habits formed in incorrect letter formation are difficult to eradicate once formed.)

By using synthetics phonics (blending/reading) with the analytical phonics (segmenting/spelling) in each book the student's ability to audibly discriminate different sounds is enhanced and in spelling individual words before free writing means that confidence to attempt the unknown is immeasurable.

Research shows that ‘The segmentation aspects of the training is likely to improve memory for strings of phonemes, a factor in blending ability’. Thus, the fact that this training produces better reading and blending is consistent with a great deal of research which shows that there is a relationship between verbal short-term memory, phonological awareness and reading (Bradley 1986 for review).

A number of studies have found that combining synthetic phonics (reading through blending) analytic phonics (spelling through segmenting) not only improves spelling, but also reading performance (Ehri, 1989; Foorman & Francis, 1994: O’Connor & Jenkins, 1995).

FongyPhonics does this.

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