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Types of Phonics

Different Strategies of Teaching Phonics Will Produce Different Results

There's no doubt that using phonics is the most effective method to teach a child to read; however, there are several different types of phonics, and when you compare the results they produce side-by-side, you'll see that one methodology will always lead to better reading results. Even studies have shown this, and we will discuss some of that here. But first, let's take a quick look at the various phonics strategies.

We will briefly discuss each of these.

Embedded Phonics

This is probably the least effective way to teach reading in the above 4 listed strategies. Embedded phonics is used together with - as a side branch of - the whole language method of learning to read. This is a very implicit approach where limited amounts of letter and sound relationships are taught during reading sessions. This places very little emphasis on phonics, and more focus is placed on reading for meaning first.

Analogy phonics

As the name suggests, this phonics strategy teaches students to read through analogy - through the learning of onsets and rimes where a student learns unfamiliar words by recognizing similarities between words.

"Onsets" are the beginnings of words, and "rimes" are the ending parts, which follow the "onset". A few examples:

DOG: D-OG (D is the onset and OG is the rime)

CLAP: CL-AP (CL is the onset and AP is the rime)

The drawback of this approach is that some extensive memorizing is required in learning the onsets, rimes, and word family and word patterns.

Analytical Phonics

This teaching strategy involves analyzing letter sound relationships in words the student has already learned. The student is taught to look for the common sounds in a set of words, and this approach is also referred to as "implicit phonics".

For example, in a set of words: DOG, DAD, DING, and DAY, the /d/ phoneme is the shared sound in these words.

The drawback of this method is that it starts with the "whole" and moves into the "parts", and at the same time, the student may not have acquired sufficient phonemic awareness or phoneme knowledge to succeed with the comparison of the sounds within different words.

Just One More...

So, from above, we've discussed 3 different methods of teaching children to read using phonics instructions. Each of these are taught in different ways, and will produce different results. Some are more effective, while some are not. There is one other approach that we've not discussed here yet - Synthetic Phonics. The discussion of this topic can get a bit lengthy, and as we believe that explicit phonics instructions is the most effective strategy, and we will devote an entire page to this topic. You can read about Synthetic Phonics here.