phonics

noun, plural in form but singular in construction
pho·​nics | \ ˈfä-niks How to pronounce phonics (audio) , sense 1 is also ˈfō- How to pronounce phonics (audio) \

Definition of phonics

1 : the science of sound : acoustics
2 : a method of teaching beginners to read and pronounce words by learning the phonetic value of letters, letter groups, and especially syllables

How Do You Teach phonics?

In the field of beginning reading, there are two basic schools of thought in the U.S. today. One emphasizes "whole language" teaching, which relies on teaching a lot of reading; the other emphasizes phonics, teaching how letters and syllables correspond to sounds. Phonics instruction may be especially difficult in English, since English has the most difficult spelling of any Western language. Consider the various ways we create the f *sound in *cough, photo, *and *giraffe, or the sh sound in special, issue, vicious, *and *portion, or the k sound in tack, quite, and shellac, and how we pronounce the o in do, core, lock, *and *bone, or the ea in lead, ocean, idea, and early. Teaching phonics obviously isn't an easy job, but it's probably an important one.

Examples of phonics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Green said interventions can include phonics lessons in which teachers explain, for example, how two letters in a word can produce two separate sounds. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, 28 June 2022 Some experts argue teaching early readers foundational skills, including how to sound out words using phonics is best. Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle, 23 June 2022 Is the charter using a program that teaches phonics and other foundational reading skills in a systematic way? Natalie Wexler, Forbes, 19 May 2022 In 1995, the California State Legislature mandated that phonics be used in literacy teaching, and in 1997, Gov. Pete Wilson appointed Ms. Joseph to the California Board of Education. Sam Roberts, New York Times, 8 Apr. 2022 That last quote is a misleading characterization of phonics. Natalie Wexler, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 The state Legislature later passed a bill that mandated the use of phonics in reading instruction. Los Angeles Times, 25 Mar. 2022 Good phonics practice will not close another gap in reading instruction. Washington Post, 10 Oct. 2021 The group settled on an approach that included whole language and phonics, a victory for Joseph. Los Angeles Times, 25 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'phonics.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of phonics

circa 1684, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for phonics

New Latin phōnicus phonic + -ics

Note: The word was most likely reformed on several occasions. Its earliest use appears to be in an essay by the English-born Church of Ireland cleric Narcissus Marsh (1638-1713) ("An introductory Essay to the Doctrine of Sounds, containing some proposals for the improvement of Acousticks," Philosophical Transactions [of the Royal Society], vol. 14, no. 156, February 20, 1684, p. 473): "In like manner Hearing may be divided into Direct, Refracted, and Reflex'd; whereto answer three parts of our doctrine of Acousticks; which are yet nameless, unless we call them Acousticks, Diacousticks, and Catacousticks, or (in another sense, but to as good purpose) Phonicks, Diaphonicks, and Cataphonicks." The application of phonics to a method of teaching reading appears to date from the first half of the nineteenth century; see the anonymous review of the phonic reading books sponsored by the British educator Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth in The Quarterly Review, vol. 74 (June & October, 1844), pp. 26-38, in which the reviewer refers contemptuously to a sound-based teaching system as "Shuttleworth's phonics."

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The first known use of phonics was circa 1684

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phonic

phonics

phonic wheel

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Last Updated

1 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Phonics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phonics. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for phonics

phonics

noun
pho·​nics | \ ˈfä-niks How to pronounce phonics (audio) \

Kids Definition of phonics

: a method of teaching beginners to read and pronounce words by learning the usual sound of letters, letter groups, and syllables

phonics

noun, plural in form but singular in construction
pho·​nics | \ ˈfän-iks, 1 is also ˈfō-niks \

Medical Definition of phonics

1 : the science of sound : acoustics
2 : a method of teaching beginners to read and pronounce words by learning the phonetic value of letters, letter groups, and especially syllables

More from Merriam-Webster on phonics

Nglish: Translation of phonics for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of phonics for Arabic Speakers

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