Three Secrets You Must Know About Teaching Phonics


Secret #1: Reduce What the Student Needs to Learn to the Smallest Possible Number of Sounds & Sound Combinations

Getting children or adults to attach a sound to a specific symbol or group of symbols is no easy job, but if you do it correctly, you can reduce the task to teaching just 63 sounds and sound combinations to cover the entire English language. The list of 63 sounds and sound combinations are provided as part of the free training here at www.maloneymethod.com. You’ll want to start by taking the free reading assessment test and work forward from there.

Many programs incorporate literally hundreds of different sound combinations into their phonics presentations. This is confusing for many children and time consuming and inefficient for the teacher. The KISS principle still works best in this situation.

Secret #2: Make Sure that the Symbol or Symbol Combination Always Makes the Same Sound in Every Word

In effective programs, sounds and sound combinations never change. The same symbol or combination of symbols always has the same sound. This is a huge secret. Many programs teach the same symbol to have more than one sound depending on the word in which it is found. This is completely baffling to some learners. “So which one should I say now?” It leads to increased guessing, more errors and reduced confidence.

Having the security of knowing that the same symbol always says the same thing is really helpful to reluctant readers. You achieve this by dividing the world of words into two distinct piles; those that are phonetically regular and those that are not. In the phonetically regular words, the student says the sounds and the word becomes obvious. For the irregular word pile, we use a completely different strategy. Sixty-five percent of the most common 1000 words are phonetically regular.

Secret #3: Build Fluency Using Cumulative Fluency Checks

Sounds and sound combinations are added to the phonics program very carefully. They must be separated by several lessons if they look or sound alike so that you do not confuse the student. (e.g. “b”, “d”, “p”, and “q”)

Once they are added to the program, they are organized into groupings across sets of 5 lessons. At the end of each lesson, the sounds from the previous 5 lesson set are reviewed. To demonstrate fluency, the student needs to say 50- 60 sounds or sound combinations in 60 seconds with no more than 2 errors. Unless they can reach that criterion, they are not yet fluent. You did not teach them well enough yet. You need to review and possibly reteach.

Hint: If you watch the student carefully, s/he will show you exactly where the problems are. S/he will hesitate before saying a difficult sound or sound combination. S/he has just told you that this particular sound or sound combination is hard for them. Put a pencil mark on it and review any sounds with a mark before the next timing.

To learn more, start by taking our free reading assessment test and then gain access to our free training that will assist your child or those you work with.


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