BBC Skillswise: Interactive Phonics tool
Date posted: 02 October 2012
The new BBC Skillwise Phonics tool is a great way to show how the sounds of English can help with reading.
Use the tool to hear the sounds of spoken English, see examples of how each sound is written, and visualise how words can be broken down into sounds.
Synthetic phonics is a specific approach to learning to read which starts with what learners already know - the 40 or so sounds or 'phonics' they use to speak English. And then focuses on how spoken words are built up - or 'synthesised' - from these sounds.
Once learners are aware of the sounds of English and how spoken words are built up from these sounds, they can learn the ways each sound is usually written, as a letter, or group of letters.
Learners can apply this knowledge to help break down written words and read them one sound at a time. Then blend these sounds together into the spoken word.
Synthetic phonics is an approach to reading now used in most UK schools and increasingly in adult literacy classes. This Phonics tool is designed to support learners when they are using a synthetic phonics approach.
Most experts agree that there are also other useful approaches to reading which can be used alongside synthetic phonics, such as looking at the visual shapes of words, or looking at the context of the rest of the sentence to work out what a word is. So when using synthetic phonics remember to be aware of other approaches and which ways work best for learners.