NRRF - The Essence of Phonics
The Essence of Phonics
by Dr. Patrick Groff
NRRF Board Member & Senior Advisor
Dr. Patrick Groff, Professor of Education Emeritus
San Diego State University, has published over 325 books,
monographs, and journal articles and is a nationally known
expert in the field of reading instruction.
For parents who may not understand what phonics information is, this may give
them confidence they can teach it. The essence of what you need to know to
teach phonics information can be expressed "on the back of an envelope":
- Letters of the alphabet represent the sounds of speech.
- The "short" vowel sounds are:
// as in at;
// in elf; // in it;
// in odd; // in up
- Attaching short vowels to consonant sounds makes
/ab-eb-ib-ob-ub/, or /ba-be-bi-bo-bu/, or
/bat-bet-bit-bot-but/, or /brag-bled-drip-stop-drum/, or
/fast-rest-fist-cost-must, or /grand-blend-brisk-frost-crust/
- The "long" vowel sounds are:
as in game; in Pete; in pine;
in home; in cute
The long vowels also are spelled with two joined letters:
fail, play; seen, leaf; die; boat
- The diphthongs are /oi/ as in oil or boy, and /ou/ as in howl or out.
- Two other important vowels sounds are /oo/ in foot, and in boot.
- Long vowels, diphthongs, and /oo/ and // attached to consonant sounds
make up many words (the same way short vowels do).
- Some consonant sounds are spelled with joined letters:
/ch/ as in chant; /kw/ in quack; /sh/ in shop;
/th/ in this
- Some speech sounds in words are not spelled according to the above phonics
angel; vary, care, hair; be; myth, prince, fence; find, night, by; arm, salt,
cough; union; both, know; truth, who, rude, new; put.
Some words have "silent" letters:
comb, write, bubble, middle, cuff, full,
common, connect, poppy, tarry, miss,
- All words are sounded-out left-to-right when phonics information is
applied to them.
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