Glossary Of Phonics Terms
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A Glossary of Phonics Terms – A Balanced Approach

Interested in learning about phonics?

Phonics is a word you may have heard bandied about by teachers, other parents, or even your local politicians. It is a hot topic in the government and around the education system.

But just what is phonics? What about phonemic awareness? Or alphabetic code?

If you’re wondering what these terms are, than you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a list of interesting terms and concepts relating to phonics for you.

Hope this helps!

  • Alphabetic Code

    The Alphabetic Code is a term used to describe the written version of an oral language. The sounds that make up words in the language are each assigned their own code values, and anyone who knows the code can decipher the language and effectively read the intent of the writer. In the English language, there are 26 letters (values) in the alphabetic code.

  • Balanced Approach Learning

    The term Balanced Approach Learning has appeared recently in the great reading debate as an effort to satisfy both the phonics supporters and the whole word supporters. Balanced approach learning approaches the reading problem with memorization of complex and unique spellings and a healthy dose of phonic training. In this way, children are taught to sound out words to read them, learn some phonics grammar rules, but also learn to recognize word groups and spelling differences.

  • Illiteracy

    Illiteracy is the inability to read or write at a competent level. A growing number of North Americans are becoming illiterate, and the numbers are increasing each year. This has caused the government and powerful lobby groups to sound an alarm, and a concerted effort is being made to eradicate illiteracy in children.

  • Literacy

    Literacy is the ability to read or write at a competent level. Reading comprehension is considered a basic skill and a fundamental human right by most countries in the world, literacy is one of the most important skills a person can have. Many reconstruction projects in third world countries begin with teaching the ability to read and write to people in extreme poverty.

  • Phoneme

    The word Phoneme is a term used to describe the sound that a letter makes in the alphabet. Phoneme training is a building block of the phonics method of learning, and it is generally taught up to the first grade. Many children enter the school system at the kindergarten level with some form of “Phonemic Awareness”.

  • Phonemic Awareness

    Phonemic awareness is the term used to describe the ability to describe the sound that any letter makes in the alphabet. Studies have shown that the ability to recognize the sounds that letters make, or phonemes, is directly related to a person’s ability to read and write properly. Students with poor phonemic awareness generally do poorly at spelling and reading, because it takes them longer to figure out the sounds of the words.

  • Phonics

    Phonics is a term used to describe a system of learning how to read and write that focuses on code-emphasis rather than context. Phonics was invented by Martin Luther and his followers during the Protestant Reformation of the 1600’s. It is a drill-based, step-by-step method of instruction that uses reading lesson plans and phonics worksheets.

  • Phonics Rules

    Phonics Rules, used by programs such as Hooked on Phonics, are a set of laws tied to teaching the English Language through code-based phonics learning. The rules are presented as drills, and are learned through repetition. Due to the nature of the English language, however, these phonics rules can sometimes get complicated and confusing.

  • Reading Wars

    Reading Wars is a term that came out of the vicious fight between proponents of the phonics system of learning and those supporting whole word learning. The fight has stretched through the school system for almost 50 years, and has become a political minefield as politicians have leapt into the fray. The fight has traditionally been between teachers, parents, and various school boards over reading fluency.

  • Protestant Reformation

    The Protestant Reformation is the term used to describe the great split in the Roman Catholic Church lead by the rogue priest Martin Luther in the 1600’s. Luther had many problems with the church at the time of the split, and one of his biggest problems was with what he saw as the church’s attempt to keep the population of Europe as illiterate as possible. He was instrumental in transcribing the Bible to English from Latin. Luther and his followers are generally attributed to being the first teachers to implement a phonics-based instruction.

  • Whole Language Learning

    Whole Language Learning is a term used to describe a comprehensive technique that teaches children how to read and write. Contrary to popular belief, it is not related in any real way to the phonics vs. whole word debate. It is a common mistake to use whole language in place of whole word.

  • Whole Word Learning

    Whole Word Learning is a term used to describe a technique of teaching people to read that incorporates meaning-related techniques as opposed to the phonic code-related techniques. Whole word learning is considered a holistic, relaxed approach to reading that developed from a backlash to the phonic reading drills. The basic belief behind whole word learning is that children will absorb literacy through practice—therefore all they need to do is keep reading and eventually they’ll get it. This form also emphasises memorization of word groups that rhyme (such as bake, fake, cake, etc) and memorization of difficult, foreign, and unique spellings that abound in the English language.

Well, there you have it. Phonics can be a confusing subject, but if you’re still stuck after reading this article, there are a lot of folks out there who are eager to help you out. Good hunting!

About The Author

Bill Schnarr is a successful freelance copywriter providing valuable tips and advice for consumers purchasing home school resources, articles on the Hooked on Phonics reading program and learning more about educational family games. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.

This " Glossary of Phonics Terms" reprinted with permission.

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