- Instant Reader
- August 31, 2017, 11:15 pm
The terms "phonetics" and "phonemics" are often used in the field of education. Some writers use them interchangeably, yet they mean different things and have different roles as children begin to read.
In this article, we will clarify the difference between phonetics and phonemics. Each is necessary in building good reading skills.
Phonetics refers to a branch of linguistics and it deals with the proper study of sounds associated with human speech. Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure can be credited for recognizing the prime importance of sound in human language, during the early 20th century. The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is used as the basis for the phonetic transcription of speech.
Phoneme refers to the smallest phonetic unit of sound in a language. It is capable to distinguish meanings of words. Phonemes are of great importance as if a phoneme is changed that there are chances of the word getting changed too.
Now, let me use the word ? “champ” to illustrate the difference between phonetics and phonemics. When a child learns through phonetics, he would be taught to identify the beginning sound as “c”, middle sound as “a” and ending sound as “p”. The other sounds (h and m) were not categorically taught or emphasized.
However when the child learns reading through phonemes, he would be able to categorically blend, read and spell this by identifying four phonemes from this word such as , ch/a/m/p. He would not say that the word starts with letter C since he has learned that the first sound in the word is the phoneme “ch”. The child would even be able to differentiate if the sound of A is read as short or long.
Even if phonetics approach claims that it already used sounds in teaching reading, the presentation and strategy remain the same —for the child to read and memorize the words, pictures must be handy.
You would notice that the letter name A has a totally different sound than the A in the word APPLE. The letter A is read with the long vowel “a” sound while a in the word APPLE is sounded out as short “a” vowel sound. This goes the same for the letter E (long e) and EGG with short e. I and igloo, g and goat follow the same way.
Phonetics still follows the same old /traditional approach where confusion in reading is rooted. Since phoneme awareness was not developed or introduced, the picture serves as provision to make the child master reading the word. Yes, eventually the child would read the word even if there is no more picture beside it.
Why? Simply because the element of familiarity (word and picture) had already been established earlier. Difficulty in reading arises when a given word is not anymore picture-aided. Reading becomes stressful and burdensome for the child.
In the Phonemic Awareness System, A is never equated to apple since there are three basic unit of sounds being represented by the letter A. We have short “a” for ant, long “a” for apron and dotted “a” that sounds like “o” as in the word “ball” which are carefully and categorically taught to the learner making the sound and corresponding letter symbol coding easy to file in the child‘s brain.
Let me give another feature of phonemes not specifically and deliberately taught in the phonetics approach to reading. Let‘s take the short sound “I” as in igloo.
When the child learns through phoneme mastery, he would know how to distinguish several letters bearing the same sound “I”: i.e “I” as in igloo, “y” as in happy, long “e” as in emu, double “ee” as in need and “ea” as in eagle or ear.
If you would notice all the letters bear the same sound but represented by different phonemes. In the phonemic awareness approach all these are properly and systematically taught making sure that confusion would not be experienced by the child.
Knowing that phonemic awareness is a critical skill and being able to effectively teach it are two different things. So where can you find the list of phonemes for your child to learn? The internet can surely provide you with the phonemes. It‘s freely available if only you find time to research and study the list. How come with this provision few are able to tap or capitalize on it? Why is it that with all the reading resources available, the problem of learning how to read is still monumental? For instance, when you search the internet, you will find 44 phonemes in all! That‘s almost twice the number of the letters in the alphabet!
Let me tell you again that simply memorizing all these phonemes one by one is never a guarantee for your child to read instantly and with ease. Probably those who tried to teach reading through phonemes got over-whelmed with the number. It is no joke memorizing all the phonemes and expecting that they could already read after retrieving them from the list. So what would allow a non-reader to master all these the fastest and most effective way? What proven techniques, tested strategies and essential components are we to use and incorporate in order to reach our goals together?
Find out the answers as we share to you the key — tested, proven and guaranteed method that would actually make your child read instantly and effectively.
About the Author
Hi! I’m Teacher Vicki the author and founder of Instant Reader™ . My 25 years in the teaching field continues to strengthen my conviction that an effective and proper reading foundation indeed gives any child a significant edge not just in school but life in totality. Children who are early readers are lovers of learning. They lead, they stand out and are able to unleash their full potentials.
I want to hear from you. Your thoughts, comments and suggestions are very much welcome. It’s always great to keep on learning from each other.
( BS Development Communication, UP Los Banos; M.A.in Education, UP Diliman; Diploma in Dyslexia , Blackford Centre for Dyslexia, UK, London)