Phonics Teaching Skills: Merits and Demerits

Palace STyle School

The phonetic approach is a method of teaching, learning, and reading based on the letters of the alphabet and their associated sounds. Children learn the shapes of the letters and the sounds they produce to decode words that appear in the text.

The phonetic approach to reading has advantages and disadvantages but still plays a key role in early literacy training in most classrooms.

Confidence building: This skill helps children to break down new words into shorter sounds, which can be blended together to form words. The phonetic strategy gives beginning readers a tool to use when facing difficult and unfamiliar words, therefore building their confidence.

Before they learn to recognize words instantaneously, they can use this approach to slowly sound out words. The phonetic approach is especially helpful when a child faces a text that is slightly more advanced than his actual reading level. Longer, more complicated words do not seem as scary when they can be methodically separated into individual letters or letter clusters.


Spelling new words: Phonics instruction can help children spell new words when writing. Just as they would use the phonetic approach to break down a word while reading, they can use the approach to break down a word in their minds as they prepare to write it.

They can say the word aloud or silently, break it into smaller parts, listen for the sounds and then visualize the associated letters.


Phonetic skills are not applicable to non-phonetic words: It is not all words that are spelt phonetically. Many English words are not spelt the way they sound, which can be frustrating for new readers who depend on the phonetic approach while reading. Using the phonetic approach can lead students in the wrong direction when faced with words such as “said”, “ocean”, “sugar” or “Wednesday.”

Using the phonetic approach, “said” would be read as “sayed.” Instead of reading letter by letter, children must learn to memorize these types of words so they can immediately recognize them. Children who depend solely on the phonetic approach would fail to read such words correctly.


Skills may not promote comprehension: Phonetic approach may help children read words fluently, but may not focus on the comprehension of these words. Using only the phonetic approach, a student may read an entire sentence without understanding it. However, the whole-language approach to reading is an example of a different method that emphasizes meaning in language rather than just decoding skills.

If students learn that words ending in “ing”, for example, show action they have a better chance of understanding “ing” words while reading them. They may even have a better chance of decoding quickly if they understand the context in which they appear.


Following from the above, one would realize that the overall pronunciation, recognition, spelling and reading outcomes that are to be achieved by children in their early years is not solely dependent on the use of phonics teaching method, but involves the use of other strategies as well. However, because phonics has its empirically proven strengths of being easy to test and provide short-term results, we at Palace Style School adopt a blend of this method and other relevant methods that help our wards to achieve success in all the relevant outcomes of our literacy curriculum.


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