Spell Bee is a renowned international competition where children are tested with respect to their English vocabulary, spellings, accent and language. Most of the times, we have seen that Indian children deliver outstanding performances in this competition. This is quite possible because of the diversification of languages, prosody, accent that we Indians have. Our culture and tradition helps us with the bonus mother tongue, language apart from English. This helps us in generalizing and associating the pronunciations related to English language.
In current Indian scenario, English is the most preferred language for communication used in schools. With the growing influence of the western language and their implications it becomes vital for every child to learn about word formation and pronunciation. Here the curriculum of phonics plays a significant role for language skills.
‘PHONICS IS THE JOURNEY WHERE READING IS THE DESTINATION!’
PHONICS is the link between what we Say, what we Read and what we write. It is estimated that there are at least a half million words in English language. So, we have a choice when it comes to teaching to read. They are:
1) Memorization or
When Memorization is emphasized, we attempt to teach children read by repeatedly exposing them to as many words as possible. These words are learnt on the basis of visual memory and other cognitive skills of the child. To memorize it’s required that the child has good intellectual abilities to remember, use, and generalize these sight words.
But when phonics is emphasized, reading Foundation for each child is based on letter and sounds of the 26 letters with their 42 sounds and 72 common spellings. Each alphabet has its own unique sound. If these sounds are learnt well and the rules of phonics are followed whenever required, any word can be read with respect to the letter and sound relation. This skill in turn can be considered as a tool to read any words; seen or unseen. There are some pre requisites for learning phonics:
- Basic knowledge about alphabets(identification, sequencing, labeling, both upper and lower case alphabets)
- Letter to picture association
- Age appropriate vocabulary
- Knowing about book holding, page turning
- Knowing that each word represents a spoken word
- Knowing about Left to right reading
- Basic verbal description of events
- Active involvement in story telling
Once the child is ready and has the above skills, phonics can be introduced as a method to learn newer words and initiate reading skills.
Few years ago, Vernacular medium school students did face maximum difficulties in English language because of lack of phonics curriculum being covered in school. Phonics wasn’t a necessity to be covered in the curriculum of all Montessori teachers also. If phonics isn’t developed in a child, then it becomes difficult for the child to formulate words, pronounce words and spell words. In a way, phonics also connects directly to the skill of writing which involves spelling as an integral part.
These days, phonics has risen as an operating system to be put in the English language. The laws of phonics justify the English language. These laws were earlier unknown and only memorization technique was focused upon. This made it difficult for children to understand the process of word formation and hence, they read by configuration.
Phonics is generally understood by children growing normally. There might be cases where in some children show difficulty in understanding the concept of phonics sooner or later. It’s important then to analyze the causes, compare the strengths and identify the appropriate teaching methods.
Phonics however requires good teaching skills. Teachers need to be appealing enough to attract kids towards reading skills. Identifying the strengths, weaknesses and learning styles can empower teachers to use the right tools for teaching. Teachers should also consider communicating with parents where in even parents can use the techniques whenever required.
It’s apparently not easy to develop interest in reading and in turn learning to read. Parents need to be involved more for this matter. Developing interest for storytelling, story reading, basic alphabet and word skills through play is not a time taking or difficult job for parents. Having a basic reading corner/environment at home will let kids to get accustomed to letters, words, sentences and more.
While comparing other techniques with phonics, phonics can be considered as a more natural way. Natural ways are difficult to unlearn while easy to generalize. To conclude each child is different and unique. One style can work for one child. But another child might need variations.
‘PHONICS IS THE HEART OF LANGUAGE WHO PUMPS PRONOUNCIATION FOR EACH AND EVERY WORD’
Dr. Reena Shinde: Remedial Educator
Dr.Reena Shinde is Ph. D in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from Mumbai University. She has worked as a Lecturer in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. After working for more than 12 years as a lecturer, she upgraded her knowledge and entered in to the challenging field of Remediation. She pursued her additional education in Remediation field with various other specialization courses for helping the children with academic backwardness. She is a certified UK curriculum based Jolly phonics teacher and has undergone specialization in Hindi and Mathematics remediation as well. She is one of the panel members of Maharashtra State Board & Technical Education. She is an author of the books “Basic Chemistry” and “Phonics Master”. Dr Reena has catered more than 1000 children with academic backwardness and learning difficulties. She is passionate about accepting the challenges with respect to children facing learning difficulties and motivates children for the same too.