Phonics can be defined as a method of teaching people to read and write, based on learning the relationships between sounds and the letters that represent them. Each distinct sound is called a phoneme, and there are 44 of them in the English language, which is why there are a number of "44 sounds" resources on the market. We sell some of them here. A letter or combination of letters that represent one sound is called a grapheme, and we call the relationship between sounds and the symbols (graphemes) that represent them "grapheme phoneme correspondence", or gpc for short. This is sometimes referred to as the phonic code: as children progress in their grasp of phonics they learn new gpc's and increase their skill and confidence in blending them together to decode unfamiliar words. Using synthetic phonics, "cat" is decoded in three stages: c - a - t.
Phonics and Dyslexia
In the UK, the prescribed method of teaching phonics in schools is called synthetic phonics, where children learn to decode words by blending, or synthesising, the gpc's that they have learnt. Some children, particularly those with dyslexia, find this difficult, and prefer to learn by recognising word families, ie groups of words that have a particular spelling pattern in common. This is called analytic phonics. Every syllable that begins with a consonant has an initial sound, the onset, and a final sound, the rime. So for the word "sound", the onset is s, and the rime is ound. So in analytic phonics, children learn to anaylse the word and recognise the rime "chunk" ound, then use that to decode other words such as ground, hound, pound etc. Analytic phonics is still widely used in the USA. Using analytic phonics, "cat" is decoded in two stages: c - at.
Phonics Resources at Crossbow.
We have a range of synthetic and analytic ("onset and rime") resources here, including games, readers, flashcards and activity books.