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How is the Alphabet taught in schools now?

(29 Posts)

I'm not really sure how to word this as a Google/thread search so perhaps someone can help

I learnt the Alphabet almost 30 years ago and we were taught ABC as the words Ay, Be, Sea etc and then the sounds they made were taught when learning to read I think. I'm under the impression that it's now taught as the sounds ie Ah, Buh, Kuh etc and although DS is only 23 months I want to make sure that any time we're discussing it (he has an alphabet puzzle and we're giving him a book with the Alphabet in for his birthday)
I'm doing it the same as when he goes to school so if he does pick it up (fairly likely I think as he's copied numbers, and learnt things like opposites from books) he doesn't end up confused/annoying the teachers!

Please can someone explain to me how it is taught or direct me to a website or something about it? I'm particularly interested in if the letters are referred to as their names or sounds - for example I would say this is an aitch for house but the sound it makes is huh' -would they say 'this is a huh for house'??

KMandMM Sun 27-Apr-14 10:38:59

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

teacherwith2kids Tue 01-Jan-13 15:46:25


When DS was showing an obsessive interest in letters and words, I got hold of the Teacher's Book for jolly Phonics (this was long before I became a teacher, btw). I knew that the school he was going to attend used Jolly Phonics and so wanted to 'do it right' and not confuse him.

I would recommend the Teacher's book above any other Jolly Phonic materials (which I never invested in) because it has clear explanations of the how and why and what of phonics in language that was clear to me as a mum.

[DS turned out to have taught himself to read before I so much as bought the book, so i didn't get to use it for him, but that's another thread. As mrz says, he appeared to learn through whole word memorisation, but when he started school and was taught phonics - for encoding (spelling) as he was already a very fluent reader - he turned out to have a very good self-worked-out knowledge of the phonic code]

Blimey I leave you lot alone for 5 minutes and you start a bun fight! grin

We have a ton of books in the house which pretty much all get thrown on the floor and strewn around the room read every day. I'd like to know the 'correct' way to talk about the Alphabet because DS has already picked up a lot of information from them and if he's going to accidentally learn any of it from books/ganes/talking about letters I'd like it to be the same as when he goes to school even though it's quite a way off. I'm certainly not planning on teaching it to him but I'd like to be able to help him when he learns it at school. Thank you all for the information and experience.

As you were grin

mrz Tue 01-Jan-13 14:38:44

"(guessing words based on context being another)" does guessing equate to reading hmm and in order to have context the child needs to read the words ...context is useful for comprehension not for accurate word reading.

English doesn't have many many exceptions to the rules.

English has 44 spoken sounds but there are only 26 letters in the alphabet so children are taught that a sound can be represented by one, two, three or even four letters, one sound can be written in different ways and one spelling can represent different sounds. It's far more effective than "guessing"!

LadyKinbote Tue 01-Jan-13 14:28:29

We've opened a can of worms here! (Said it was controversial!). There's lots on t'internet about the debate. I definitely read the dyslexic thing somewhere but can't remember where. My personal conclusion was that decoding is one of many ways we learn to read (guessing words based on context being another) and because English has many, many exceptions to the rules (as it's a language with so many different roots) you can only truly learn to read via a range of methods. I'm certainly not opposed to phonics though. We've highjacked somewhat haven't we..? grin

mrz Tue 01-Jan-13 13:41:29

You can’t read for meaning if you can’t decode the words and while it is possible to learn some words by sight it doesn't provide you with an effective strategy for decoding novel words, for that you need the phonics skills.

Pozzled Tue 01-Jan-13 13:35:45

Why the distinction between 'phonics' and 'reading for meaning'? Synthetic phonics is a system for learning to decode words, children obviously need to understand what they're reading at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive!

mrz Tue 01-Jan-13 13:28:50

Where on earth did you get that idea?

LadyKinbote Tue 01-Jan-13 13:21:52

True - every child is different. Phonics works best for children with dyslexia, and 'reading for meaning' works for many others. DD's school does a good mix of both.

mrz Tue 01-Jan-13 12:31:16

Books in the home are important but unfortunately they don't ensure that every child will learn to reed

LadyKinbote Tue 01-Jan-13 12:09:50

The most important thing to encourage reading is to have lots of different books around the house that you enjoy together. If he's very keen you'll find he starts to teach himself!

GrumpySod Tue 01-Jan-13 11:13:27

ime you really don't need to know these things for now, OP. I didn't know anything about phonics before DC1 started school & he caught onto their system quickly enough. We now have Read Write Inc which is fairly prescriptive, and in spite of workshops I know I get some of the sounds wrong (cannot properly do their t or C sounds, for instance). And I still get confused between u & o. It's not going to make that much difference; other factors like native intelligence or tendency to be articulate, parental willingness to encourage & support, are much more important.

mrz Tue 01-Jan-13 10:29:28

I think children often work out phonics for themselves and even those of us who were never taught phonics apply that knowledge when we encounter new words

ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy Tue 01-Jan-13 10:20:55

I agree, it's just that unfortunately she found it very difficult. Despite doing Jolly Phonics at school from the age of 4, and having a 1-1 session daily during Y1, it never really "clicked" for her during foundation stage or KS1. Fortunately she now (aged 8) reads slightly ahead of age expectations and comprehension is good too, so she must be using some phonic cues to decode unfamiliar words.

mrz Tue 01-Jan-13 10:16:03

Unfortunately that very much limits her ability to read words not in her repertoire when she encounters them. Jolly Phonics provides an effective strategy for tackling unfamiliar words.

ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy Tue 01-Jan-13 10:07:50

I think the three boys would have learnt to read no matter what method was used, but DD never really got to grips with phonics. Eventually she built up a repertoire of words that she recognised by sight and then took it from there. smile

mrz Tue 01-Jan-13 10:01:04

Or perhaps they enjoy reading because they were taught with Jolly Phonics ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy grin

ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy Tue 01-Jan-13 01:57:42

Ours were taught with something called Jolly Phonics. Fortunately they have ended up enjoying reading anyway.

MGove Tue 01-Jan-13 01:55:11

Alpha, beta, gamma, delta..........

IwishyouaMerryChristmas Mon 31-Dec-12 22:32:53

Unless you're in Wales - the Welsh alphabet is phonetic!

Thank you all. I was getting confused because it's hard to read the sounds when they're written like that but that website is brilliant. It seems quite complicated to me because it's not how I learnt but it makes total sense and I think it's probably less confusing learning to read when children have learnt the sounds letters make in the words. I've always wondered how i was going to explain that sometimes letters sound one way in a word but at other times another way (not that I'll be teaching him it all but in case it came up) - thank you for explaining it grin

Bonbonchance Mon 31-Dec-12 21:44:07

As people have said aaa bbbb ccccc etc, ie letter sounds not names. When they go to nursery, they should start tuning into sounds of words through rhyme (but basic sound discrimination cones first) and then children tend to start to notice individual sounds (like the letters in their name usually) and it just confuses them if parents have taught them A B C etc! (Same with writing in capitals but that's another story!)

Jolly Phonics website might give you more info, lots of schools use this scheme but even if they don't it'll be something similar no doubt.

mrz Mon 31-Dec-12 19:41:07

Children still sing the alphabet song ay, bee, see, dee, ee ...but they are normally taught the 44 sounds of the English language first and how they are written before learning the alphabet. As people have said the sounds need to be very pure with no added extras
c-a-t is cat
cuh - ah- tuh isn't and neither is see- ay -tee (sounds a bit like city hmm)

dishwashervodkaanddietirnbru Mon 31-Dec-12 19:03:29 - this gives the sounds

LadyKinbote Mon 31-Dec-12 19:01:15

It's sounds but shorter sounds than we learnt (eg 'H' is an exhaled breath not the full 'huh' sound). Alphablocks on CBeebies is good because it reminds you how to pronounce the sounds. The method is called synthetic phonics (I think) and is slightly controversial as it's a bit robotic and obviously there are many words in the English language that simply can't be 'sounded out'.

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