Phonemes are the individual sounds in words. Phonics is a way of teaching which helps children understand language by introducing letters by their sound rather than name.
When we spell letters we usually use the names of individual letters. So we say the first three letters of the alphabet like this: ‘ay, bee, cee’. But it can be easier for children to start by learning the sounds letters make, for example the word ‘cat' is sounded ‘c-a-t' not ‘cee-ay-tee'.
There are 26 letters in the alphabet but phonics uses about 44 sounds that combine or ‘blend’ to make words in English. Students are also taught to recognise sounds made by combinations of letters such as `ch' and `sh'. You can find lots of examples of how to pronounce phonemes on the Internet. Here’s one good example video: You tube video.
The idea is that children can see letters or simple combinations of letters and they are able to say the sound the letters make. Then they can then put these sounds together to make words.
There are four different parts in Speak and Spell. In each one Sam and Pam, the super space spies, help learners with pronunciation and spelling.
- LearnEnglish Kids: Phonics is based on the Speak and Spell section of the LearnEnglish Kids website. Parents can collect all the Sam and Pam stories and join a closed family network to share and monitor their child's progress. Great for recommending to parents for extra help at home or for during school holidays.
- The Speak and spell section is growing! Keep checking the site for more games and printable activities in this section. We’ll let everyone know when new materials are added in theLearnEnglish Kids newsletter.
The UK phonics literacy programme recommends lots of practice. Little and often is a good way to keep your learners happy. Perhaps you could fit a 10-minute Speak and Spell session into each lesson this term to help your learners improve their pronunciation and become super spellers like Sam and Pam!