Simply put, phonics is the key for every child to become a successful reader and learner. In learning phonics, a child becomes able to read by understanding the sound that a letter or group of letters makes. This makes it possible for the child to look at a word and see it as a code which they can access and ultimately read. Once the child has learned this code of sounds and letters, they can then manipulate it to not only become a successful reader but also an accomplished writer.
A basic understanding of phonics is that every grapheme (letter), has a corresponding phoneme (sound). In the English language, once a child can hear, identify and manipulate the phonemes of the 26 graphemes of the English language, they can already read hundreds of words. Once we start to group letters into digraphs (two letters, such as ‘oy’, ‘ay’) or trigraphs (three letters, such as ‘igh’, ‘air’), there are approximately 45 phonemes in the English language that we need to learn. After mastering these 45 phonemes, a child will be able to decode most words that are placed in front of them.
Although being able to decode is a very important step in becoming an outstanding reader, children must be able to identify these letter combinations in a word and read them fluently. At BVIS HCMC, we endeavour to help our children to do this by following ‘Read Write Inc Phonics’ which was created by Ruth Miskin. This scheme was developed in line with the ‘Simple View of Reading’ (outlined in the Rose Report, 2006) recognising that children need both good word recognition as well as good oral language comprehension in order to read. To achieve good word recognition and language comprehension, children have to be able to decode words rapidly in order to take on the simplest of messages, hence the need for a comprehensive phonics scheme that teaches both phonemes and decoding in unison.
The primary idea behind ‘Read Write Inc Phonics’ is that while learning the phonemes of the graphemes, children are also learning to decode, thus reading words. The first set of letters taught consists of m, a, s, d and t. Once children have learnt these five letters, they then learn to ‘Fred Talk’, otherwise known as blending. Children begin with six consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words that they can identify the phoneme of each grapheme and blend them together to create the word. For example, s-a-d becomes ‘sad’.
The remaining letters of the English language are split in to five more groups, after which children learn to blend with the new phonemes as well as the already learnt phonemes. By the time children have learnt the first 31 phonemes, which includes 6 digraphs, a child will be able to rapidly read 136 new words and can decode many CVC, CCVC and CVCC words. From this point, children begin to learn a further 30 vowel digraphs and trigraphs in order to further excel and become competent at reading polysyllabic words. This is done using reading books that directly link to the phonemes that a child knows and allows the child to be able to decode any word in the book as it is written at an appropriately phonetic level.
Therefore, through learning the 45 phonemes of the English language while practising decoding words, children at BVIS become very competent readers as they are able to decode words rapidly and thus achieve good word recognition and good oral language comprehension. What makes BVIS’ phonics programme even more unique is that this is done in two languages, English and Vietnamese. In following the teaching format of Read Write Inc Phonics, our Vietnamese phonics programme mirrors our English one, thus providing children at BVIS with an exclusive and quality phonics learning experience.
Useful Phonics Materials:
1. Phonics made easy
2. Read Write Inc Phonics
3. Phonics Play
4. Kids Phonics
5. The Magic E Song
6. RWI – Set 1 sounds
7. Reading Digraphs with Your Child
8.Reading Bouncy Sounds with Your Child
9. Sound Blending with Your Child