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

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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 Those students should be identified and given systematic instruction in foundational reading skills, including phonics. Natalie Wexler, Forbes, 26 May 2021 Advanced phonics training and materials for every kindergarten and first grade teacher in the district. Teri Webster, Dallas News, 27 Apr. 2021 Among first graders, Budman said teachers are emphasizing phonics among other skills, while older students are working on reading comprehension. Amanda Blanco, courant.com, 26 Apr. 2021 Under the previous curriculum, students often never even learned to sound out words, because teachers hadn’t been trained in the systematic phonics instruction that many kids need. Natalie Wexler, Forbes, 24 Feb. 2021 Traditionally, kindergarten has been the doorway between early childhood and elementary education: a passage from finger paints to phonics, sandboxes to subtraction. Sonja Sharp Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 24 Nov. 2020 Testing at the school revealed that only 42 percent of students were at their grade level in terms of phonics. Steve Smith, courant.com, 13 Nov. 2020 In early September, at Lawrenceburg Public School, a first-grade teacher, Amanda Moore, masked up, led a live phonics lesson for eight students, wearing masks and sitting two to a table. Laura Pappano, New York Times, 14 Oct. 2020 The curriculum will emphasize core disciplines of math, science, history and language arts, including phonics and writing, with significant attention to music, art and foreign language. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9 Oct. 2020

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.

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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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Learn More About phonics

Time Traveler for phonics

Time Traveler

The first known use of phonics was circa 1684

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Statistics for phonics

Last Updated

7 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Phonics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phonics. Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for phonics

phonics

noun

English Language Learners Definition of phonics

: a method of teaching people to read and pronounce words by learning the sounds of letters, letter groups, and syllables

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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