What is Phonics and Why is it so Important?

Learning a language is the first step towards reading, writing, communicating, and basic education. This very foundational skill has a lot of elements to it. Any language can be broken down into sentences, words, syllables, alphabets, and most importantly sounds.

However, when it comes to educating our children, we often skip teaching sounds and their relations to the other elements forming the whole language.

What is phonics?

Today, we frequently hear about phonics classes for kids. There are plenty of online phonics classes too. But what actually is Phonics?

Phonics is a teaching method where the relationship between a sound and the alphabet of a language is taught. It deals with connecting the sounds of any language to its writing.

Teaching phonetics and alphabet principles are essential parts of kids’ phonics classes. ‘Phonetics’ refers to the sounds in a specific language and how they are made.

Why is teaching Phonics so important?

Being familiar with Indian languages from childhood, learning English can be quite complex. English is an opaque language influenced by several other languages, unlike our simpler phonetic Indian languages.

Alphabets of the Indian languages have single consistent sounds. Moreover, vowels in Indian languages are written as extra symbols (as matras) when added to consonants. Vowels in English however don’t show such changes.

Learning each language begins with learning its principles. On the surface, English has just 26 alphabets, but these make 44 sounds. Have a look at some of the qualities of English alphabets in relation to sounds:

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Talking and writing in English are two very different concepts. Representing different sounds of one alphabet becomes complex when it comes to writing. There are specific notations taught in phonics that make sound identification easier.

Recognition of letter-sound patterns of a language is a required skill. Therefore, a child needs to build a strong base with phonics for better reading and writing.

What are the benefits to teaching phonics?

Phonics classes for kids are effective ways to help them learn to read. It simplifies the decoding of any word further easing fluency and comprehension.

Phonics classes assist to recognize the sound of an alphabet, identify sounds in a combination of alphabets, and blend sounds to form words. With phonological awareness, children learn to manipulate, isolate, add, delete, and substitute sounds in words. It makes syllabification easier through which a child can segment any complicated word for accurate reading.

Learning 10 words limits to knowing just those 10. Learning 10 sounds, on the other hand, familiarizes a child with 3000+ words. Hence, learning phonics is efficient instead of memorizing thousands of words.

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