Is phonics pronunciation teaching? Back to list

Macmillan launches Macmillan Specialists in…

This month sees the launch of the first Macmillan specialists series… and this issue focuses on Phonics. Our specialist, Jo Ramsden, has extensive experience in teaching children to read using phonics. Jo outlines how you can go about using phonics while also giving some practical suggestions for activities. There are some free phonics flashcards for you to download and use with your classes too!

Some people still confuse phonics with pronunciation teaching. Phonics is a method for teaching reading and writing in English by developing the learner’s awareness of sounds and how sounds are linked with graphemes or spelling.  Raising awareness helps children to be able to ‘hear’ or identify individual sounds (the ‘c’ in ‘cat’, for example) and link this sound to the grapheme, the spelling of part of a word. The children then go on to learn how to blend these sounds (‘c’, ‘a’, ‘t’) to make words. Blending or sounding out words enables children to  read words, even words they don’t know, gradually building their reading skills.  In English there are many words that children learn as sight words, these are either words that do not follow rules, for example, who, you or they are words that are used frequently in the language, for example, it, she, he, etc.

Pronunciation teaching, on the other hand, is useful for older children who need regular practice in producing specific sounds (phonetics) or intonation and rhythm, especially when mother tongue interference is noticeable.  If you’re interested in reading more about pronunciation teaching for older learners, take a look at Phonology is fun! by Anna Cole or watch our video selection onSuccessful pronunication with Adrian Underhill.

To sum up, phonics can help learners with the pronunciation of sounds but phonics teaching is primarily used to teach reading and writing in English. Teaching pronunciation to older learners, on the other hand, will benefit from the use of other types of approaches.

Macmillan Specialists will help you to make sense of current teaching trends, methodologies and legislation. Check out the Macmillan Specialists in Phonics portfolio now!

Maria Toth