Phonics is the relationships between the letters of written language and the sounds of spoken language. Children's reading development is dependent on their understanding of the alphabetic principle — the idea that letters and letter patterns represent the sounds of spoken language. Learning that there are predictable relationships between sounds and letters allows children to apply these relationships to both familiar and unfamiliar words, and to begin to read with fluency.
During the late 1990s the whole language approach gained popularity in Portugal, but in a non-explicit form. Emphasis was placed on meaning, reading for pleasure, and developing a critical approach to the texts. Explicit phonemic awareness and explicit training for reading fluency were considered outdated by some teachers' organizations. Poor results in international comparisons led parents and schools to react to this approach and to insist on direct instruction methods. Later, during minister Nuno Crato’s tenure (2011-2015), who is known to be a vocal critic of constructivist approaches and a supporter of cognitive psychology findings, new standards ("metas") were put in place. The ministry convened a team led by a well-known specialist in reading, José Morais. This team introduced an explicit phonics teaching approach, put emphasis on decoding and reading fluency.
English has absorbed many words from other languages throughout its history, usually without changing the spelling of those words. As a result, the written form of English includes the spelling patterns of many languages (Old English, Old Norse, Norman French, Classical Latin and Greek, as well as numerous modern languages) superimposed upon one another. These overlapping spelling patterns mean that in many cases the same sound can be spelled differently and the same spelling can represent different sounds. However, the spelling patterns usually follow certain conventions. In addition, the Great Vowel Shift, a historical linguistic process in which the quality of many vowels in English changed while the spelling remained as it was, greatly diminished the transparency of English spelling in relation to pronunciation.
“My son is seven. He’s not the biggest fan of reading. He strives to do his best, but if he hits a snag while reading he tends to become frustrated and lose the desire to read. This is now his favorite app. His ability to read when and what his mind desire surpasses his frustration. We have tried many learning apps throughout the years. This by far has the most content. I just want him to find out just how wonderful a good book really can be.”
Hooked on Phonics includes 12 steps; each teaches rimes and letter sounds to help kids build words. Within each step, videos with catchy songs introduce letter sounds and sight words, and games help kids build words using onsets and rimes. Kids practice reading immediately, starting with step one, using the three ebooks that correspond with each step. Lessons include all letter sounds, plus the rimes -at, -an, -ap, -ad, -am, -ag, -ig, -id, -ig -ip, -im, -in, -ix, ill, -ot, -op, -ox, -ob, -og, -ug, -un, -ut, -ub, -up, -ed, -en, -et, -eg, and -ell. Adding s to words, the blend -ck, and reviews are also built in. Up to 25 kids can have usernames on each device, with their progress tracked step-by-step. If necessary, teachers can unlock all content at once rather than have kids progress through it sequentially. Rewards and extension sections are accessible by clicking the trophy at the bottom of the screen. Kids earn points by completing lessons and can buy items to embellish their trophies using those points. They can also practice writing sentences or stories using the words covered in the app.
Although conventional wisdom has suggested that kindergarten students might not be ready for phonics instruction, this assumption was not supported by the data. The effects of systematic early phonics instruction were significant and substantial in kindergarten and the 1st grade, indicating that systematic phonics programs should be implemented at those age and grade levels.
Recently, the National Reading Panel, composed of experts in the field of literacy, was asked by the United States Congress to examine the research on the teaching of reading. A subgroup of the National Reading Panel reviewed 38 studies to determine what the research says about the teaching of phonics. To ensure the soundness of its findings, the National Reading Panel chose to review only studies that met rigorous criteria for research studies.
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This principle was first presented by John Hart in 1570. Prior to that children learned to read through the ABC method, by which they recited the letters used in each word, from a familiar piece of text such as Genesis. It was John Hart who first suggested that the focus should be on the relationship between what are now referred to as graphemes and phonemes.
Phonics instruction should be explicit rather than implicit. Implicit instruction relies on readers "discovering" clues about sound-spelling relationships; good readers can do this, but poor readers are not likely to do so. Explicit instruction is the most effective type of phonics instruction, especially for children at risk for reading difficulties.
Children normally start on Phase 2 near the start of their first year at school. This is when most of the letters of the alphabet are introduced. Children learn the letters’ names, and they also learn one common sound for each letter of the alphabet. So for instance, the letter ‘c’ is introduced with a hard ‘c’ sound as in ‘cup’, not the soft sound it has in ‘ice’. And children learn a short sound for each vowel (a, e, i, o and u) – as in ‘hat’, ‘pet’, ‘dip’, ‘pot’ and ‘mug’.
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The spelling structures for some alphabetic languages, such as Spanish, Portuguese and specially Italian, are comparatively orthographically transparent, or orthographically shallow, because there is nearly a one-to-one correspondence between sounds and the letter patterns that represent them. English spelling is more complex, a deep orthography, partly because it attempts to represent the 40+ phonemes of the spoken language with an alphabet composed of only 26 letters (and no diacritics). As a result, two letters are often used together to represent distinct sounds, referred to as digraphs. For example, t and h placed side by side to represent either /θ/ or /ð/.
Children who have already developed phonics skills and can apply them appropriately in the reading process do not require the same level and intensity of phonics instruction provided to children at the initial phases of reading acquisition. Thus, it will also be critical to determine objectively the ways in which systematic phonics instruction can be optimally incorporated and integrated in complete and balanced programs of reading instruction. Part of this effort should be directed at preservice and inservice education to provide teachers with decision-making frameworks to guide their selection, integration, and implementation of phonics instruction within a complete reading program.
In 1996 the California Department of Education took an increased interest in using phonics in schools. And in 1997 the department called for grade one teaching in concepts about print, phonemic awareness, decoding and word recognition, and vocabulary and concept development.  Then, in 2014 the Department stated "Ensuring that children know how to decode regularly spelled one-syllable words by mid-first grade is crucial". It goes on to say that "Learners need to be phonemically aware (especially able to segment and blend phonemes)". In grades two and three children receive explicit instruction in advanced phonic-analysis and reading multi-syllabic and more complex words.
Phonics instruction may be provided systematically or incidentally. The hallmark of a systematic phonics approach or program is that a sequential set of phonics elements is delineated and these elements are taught along a dimension of explicitness depending on the type of phonics method employed. Conversely, with incidental phonics instruction, the teacher does not follow a planned sequence of phonics elements to guide instruction but highlights particular elements opportunistically when they appear in text.
Students can use the app individually, with each student totally engaged and working at his or her own pace, freeing the teacher to pull students for individual reading instruction. The videos could be shown to the whole class, introducing letter sounds or reviewing sight words. The ebooks are frustration-free read-alouds to show kids that they can read. Students can work at their own pace, allowing advanced readers to move more quickly, or teachers could build a semester-long curriculum, covering one step per week.
Montessori Letter Sounds works off of four stages for kids: I-Spy Games, Letter Sounds, Mix-n-Match, and Sound it Out. In each step, children will find a learning activity and a game to help them put their learning into practice. Self-correction is encouraged throughout the app to increase self-confidence. The system keeps track of marbles won by each player. Marbles are used to unlock games and levels and to stimulate learning.
In order to have a true understanding of the purpose and function of letters and letter sounds, children must understand how words are represented in print, or concept of word.5 This means they know that words are collections of letters that represent a series of speech sounds that collectively represent a unit of meaning. They need to understand that each new word is signified by a space that does not contain any letters. They need to understand that you can see a word as well as say a word.
In 1997, Congress asked the Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to convene a national panel to assess the effectiveness of different approaches used to teach children to read. The National Reading Panel examined quantitative research studies on many areas of reading instruction, including phonics and whole language. The resulting report Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and its Implications for Reading Instruction was published in 2000 and provides a comprehensive review of what is known about best practices in reading instruction in the U.S. The panel reported that several reading skills are critical to becoming good readers: phonemic awareness, phonics for word identification, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension. With regard to phonics, their meta-analysis of hundreds of studies confirmed the findings of the National Research Council: teaching phonics (and related phonics skills, such as phonemic awareness) is a more effective way to teach children early reading skills than is embedded phonics or no phonics instruction. The panel found that phonics instruction is an effective method of teaching reading for students from kindergarten through 6th grade, and for all children who are having difficulty learning to read. They also found that phonics instruction benefits all ages in learning to spell. They also reported that teachers need more education about effective reading instruction, both pre-service and in-service.