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What role does learning high frequency words play in phonics?

(104 Posts)
Kaida Wed 21-Nov-12 13:14:51

I thought in phonics there were no flashcards, lists of words to learn by sight etc. But lots of kids going through the care of the several foster carers in my family (several different schools) have these still. Have I got confused somewhere? (entirely probable, my firstborn is too young for reading yet)

IsabelleRinging Wed 21-Nov-12 22:20:50

I am not sure phonics schemes do take all regional accents into account. For example letter a is taught as making a 'a' sound as in cat, bat and also 'ae' as in radar. I have never com across a scheme which teaches an 'ar' sound as in the southern pronunciation of bath (barth). The same goes for the pronunciation of 'to' as discussed up thread. In my local area it is pronounced 'tu' not 'too', and the phonics schemes do not teach letter o as representing the sound 'u', which really does make it a tricky word for a new reception child.

learnandsay Wed 21-Nov-12 22:26:56

I'm not sure that accent is all that catered for in the schemes. But it does seem as though allowances have been made for them in the phonics test. Quite how this is going to work out in practice I don't know!!

maizieD Wed 21-Nov-12 22:40:12

It's not so much the phonics 'schemes' taking accent into account as the intelligence of the teachers who are teaching them! If you are surrounded by children who say 'barth' for 'bath' then it's no good telling them that the 'a' in that word is the same as the 'a' in 'cat'. Phonics isn't elocution lessons wink It's about the letters corresponding to the sounds in the words.

I do think, though, that sometimes you just have to explain to a child that their accent isn't really accomodated (like the 'curring' example) and tell them to use a 'spelling voice' version of the word to remember how to spell it!

maizieD Wed 21-Nov-12 22:41:53

learnand say. In the phonics test a word/grapheme which is pronounced with the local accent is perfectly acceptable.

learnandsay Wed 21-Nov-12 22:49:42

Yes, but that is a test of what the child reads on the day. That's not the same thing as making sense of a sentence in a book, because that's not what the phonics test is looking for. In the main books aren't written in regional accents although some memorable and quirky ones are.

Cathycat Wed 21-Nov-12 22:54:17

I think that words are sent home to please parents. They ask for them.

Tgger Wed 21-Nov-12 22:59:19

DS didn't get any words sent home. Actually that's wrong, he got some just before half term for the first time (Y1). I glanced at them and said "oh, you know all those don't you". The letter was worded rather as you say Cathycat, for the parents rather than the children grin.

PiedWagtail Wed 21-Nov-12 23:04:22

Some words you can sound out; others you can't, and have to learn them by sight. Quite a few of the HF ones are in the latter category.

learnandsay Wed 21-Nov-12 23:28:05

hmmm, not really, Wagtail. As mrz is fond of pointing out there are nearly always common methods of sounding out portions of words, even ones which don't look likely like: he, to, I, say, said and so on and so on.

My own feeling is that familiarity is the mother of all irregular word reading/recognition.

Mashabell Thu 22-Nov-12 07:06:42

familiarity is the mother of all irregular word reading/recognition.
It is indeed.

mrz Thu 22-Nov-12 07:16:46

IsabelleRinging you may never have come across a scheme that teaches the letter <a> as "ar" but that is exactly what we do teach.

Mashabell Thu 22-Nov-12 07:17:37

do you (or anyone else) know if there is a sort of reverse chart- where it shows the graphemes and then the most likely phoneme?
I have done them both ways, sound to graphemes and graphemes to sounds, along with all their exceptions, but they don't show up well if posted on here as they lose their bold formating, and I can't give u links to my own stuff.

I'll paste in the list. It will come out as plain text, but I think u should be able to make sense of it.

The main spellings/graphemes for the 43 English sounds are as follows:
/a/ - |cat|,
/a-e/ - |plate, plain, play|,
/ar/ - |car|,
/air/ - |care|,
/au/ - |sauce, saw|,
/b/ - |bed|,
/ch/ - |chat, catch|,
/d/ - |dog|,
/e/ - |end|,
/ee/ - |eat, funny|,
/er/ -|herb|,
/f/ - |fish|,
/g/ - |garden|,
/h/ - |house|,
/i/ - |ink|,
/i -e/ -|bite, by|,
/j/ - |jug, bridge, oblige|,
/k/ - |cat/ot/ut, c/l/ram, comic, pick, kite/kept, seek, risk, quick, fix|,
/l/ - |lips|,
/m/ - |man|,
/n/ - |nose|,
/ng/ - |ring|,
/o/ - |on, want, quarrel|,
/o-e/ -|bone, old, so|,
/oi/ - |coin, toy|,
/oo/ -|food|,
/oo/ -|good|,
/or/ - |order, wart, quarter, more|,
/ou/ -|out, now|,
/p/ - |pin|,
/r/ - |rug|,
/s/ - |sun, face, lunacy|,
/sh/ -|shop, station, cautious, facial, musician|,
/t/ - |tap, delicate|,
/th/ - |this|
/th/ - |thing|,
/u/ - |up|,
/u -e/ -|cube, cue|,
/v/ - |van, river, have|,
/w/ -|wind|,
/y -/ - |yes|,
/z/ - |zip, wise|,
/zh/ - |vision, treasure|

There is also
the consonant doubling pattern (bitter - biter)
8 main endings (doable, fatal, single, ordinary, flatten, presence, present, other)
2 main prefixes (decide, invite).

mrz Thu 22-Nov-12 07:19:09

PiedWagtail if you couldn't sound out all words they wouldn't be words.

Spellings are the written code for spoken sounds if you know the code you can sound out the word.

scaevola Thu 22-Nov-12 07:25:13

There's a link somewhere to a really good chart of the common phoneme grapheme correspondences. I'll see if I can find it - it's more comprehensive than the list above (and probably more printer-friendly).

Mashabell Thu 22-Nov-12 07:32:16

Many of the graphemes/spellings have more than one pronunciation:
a: and – apron, any, father
a-e: came – camel
ai: wait – said, plait
al: always – algebra
all: tall - shall
are: care - are
au: autumn - laugh, mauve
-ate: to deliberate - a deliberate act
ay: stays - says

cc: success - soccer
ce: centre - celtic
ch: chop –chorus, choir, chute
cqu: acquire - lacquer

e: end – English
-e: he - the
ea: mean - meant, break
ear: ear – early, heart, bear
-ee: tree - matinee
e-e: even – seven, fete
ei: veil - ceiling, eider, their, leisure
eigh: weight - height
eo: people - leopard, leotard
ere: here – there, were
-et: tablet - chalet
eau: beauty – beau
- ew: few - sew
- ey: they - monkey

ge: gem - get
gi: ginger - girl
gy: gym – gynaecologist
ho: house - hour
i: wind – wind down
- ine: define –engine, machine
ie: field - friend, sieve
imb: limb – climb
ign: signature - sign
mn: amnesia - mnemonic

ost: lost - post
-o: go - do
oa: road - broad
o-e: bone – done, gone
-oes: toes – does, shoes
-oll: roll - doll
omb: tomboy - bomb, comb, tomb
oo: boot - foot, brooch
-ot: despot - depot
ou: sound - soup, couple
ough: bough - rough, through, trough
ought: bought - drought
oul: should - shoulder, mould
our: sour - four, journey
ow: how - low

qu: queen – bouquet
s: sun – sure
sc: scent - luscious, molusc
-se: rose - dose
ss: possible - possession
th: this - thing
-ture: picture - mature
u: cup – push
ui: build – fruit, ruin
wa: was – wag
wh: what - who
wo: won - woman, women, womb
wor: word – worn
x: box - xylophone, anxious
- y-: type - typical
- -y: daddy - apply
z: zip – azure

The use of one grapheme for more than one sound is what makes many English words thricky to decode, and does not happen in other alphabetically written languages. It makes learning to read English uniquely difficult.

Masha Bell

Mashabell Thu 22-Nov-12 07:38:47

The spelling chart I pasted in gives just the most often used graphemes, but most of them have alternatives (scoop - soup; root - brute, fruit).
I'll paste that in too, to give some idea why most children take a long time to learn to spell 'correctly', and why many never quite manage to do so.

cat - plait meringue

plate - wait weight straight great vein reign table apron dahlia champagne fete
play - they weigh ballet cafe matinee

air - care bear aerial their there questionnaire
car - are + (S. Engl. bath)

sauce - crawl always tall caught bought
saw - (UK also: or, four, more)


c/at/ot/ut - character, kangaroo, queue
crab/ clap - chrome
lilac - stomach, anorak
neck - cheque
rocket - crocodile, soccer, occupy, liquor
kite/ kept - chemistry
seek - unique
risk - disc mosque

chat - picture
clutch - much
dad - blonde
end - friend leisure head any said leopard bury Wednesday
eel - eat even ceiling field police people me key ski debris quay
jolly - trolley budgie corgi
her - turn bird learn journey
fish - photo stuff rough
garden - ghastly guard
house – who
ink - pretty sieve women busy build mystery
bite - might height indict style climb eider kind sign island
my - high pie rye buy I eye
jug / jog
fidget - digit
jelly, jig – gentle, ginger
k (see c)
lips - llama
mum - dumb autumn
nose - gnome knot mnemonic gone
pot - cough sausage
want - wont
quarrel - quod
mole - bowl roll soul boast most goes mauve
old - mould
toe - go oh dough sew cocoa pharaoh depot
oil - oyster
toy - buoy
food - rude shrewd fruit truth move group tomb manoeuvre
blue do shoe through
good would put woman courier
order - board
wart, quart – worn quorn
more - soar door four war swore abhor
out - town
now - plough
quick - acquire choir
rug - rhubarb write
sun - centre scene
face - case
fancy - fantasy
shop - sure chute moustache liquorice
ignition - mission pension suspicion fashion
ambitious - delicious luscious
facial - spatial
tap, pet - pterodactyl two debt
delicate - democrat
this thing
up - front some couple blood
cute - neutral newt suit beauty Tuesday nuclear you
cue - few view menu
have spiv
river - chivvy
window - which
fix - accept except exhibit
yak - use
zip - xylophone
rose - froze
measure - azure

Schwa (unstressed vowels - mainly in endings and prefixes)
loveable - credible
vertical - novel anvil petrol single
ordinary - machinery inventory century carpentry
fasten - abandon truncheon orphan goblin certain
absence - balance
absent - defiant
father - author armour nectar centre injure quota
decide - divide
indulge - endure

Consonant doubling
merry (regular – 372)
very (missing -384)
serrated (surplus – 158)
Consonant doubling alone makes the spellings of nearly 1000 words unpredictable.

In all, at least 3701 common English words contain some spelling uncertainty. That's why phonics is of limited use for learning to read and to write English. It's a good start, but no more than that.
Masha Bell

scaevola Thu 22-Nov-12 08:44:34

This is a good and comprehensive list.

maizieD Thu 22-Nov-12 17:44:41

Of course it is, scaevola. It's produced by a person who knows exactly what she is talking aboutgrin

masha, there are times when I wish that mumsnet had a 'stifle' buttonwink Three consecutive lists! Aarrggghhh....

Hulababy Thu 22-Nov-12 18:57:41

sabelleRinging - In the audio on the CDs we use alongside Floppy Phonics the /ar/ sound in words such as bath IS included. I think the programmes include regional accepts simply by the way they are taught more than anything else though - the teacher stood at the front includes these as incidental teaching.

mrz Thu 22-Nov-12 19:06:39

We use the Sounds-Write programme and the letter <a> is taught as a spelling for the sound "ar" but generally teaching should reflect the accent of most children.

LeeCoakley Thu 22-Nov-12 19:22:19

We were doing the 'ar' sound this morning (L&S). Words with an 'a' in them that either went in the 'ar' column (e.g. fast, path) or the 'o' column (e.g. was, want)

maizieD Thu 22-Nov-12 19:30:16

Accents can vary quite markedly even in one place. I never know whether my children are going to 'luke at a book', 'luke at a buke' or 'look at a buke'. And some of them 'cook', while some of them 'cuke'.... You just have to be flexiblegrin

mrz Thu 22-Nov-12 19:44:07

but you wouldn't teach <u> in your accent when your pupils say "u" would you maizeD just as you would teach "ar" not "a" if your pupils said grarss not grass

SoundsWrite Thu 22-Nov-12 20:24:28

I agree, Mrz. I always recommend teaching to the accent of the children, which as Maizie says varies from one place to another. My mother always 'lukes' at 'bukes' and I never know what she's talking about grin.
It's nice to see you two have such a good sense of humour at this time on a Thursday night in November!

mrz Thu 22-Nov-12 20:26:57

Sometime you have to just have to find a reason to smile Sounds-Write grin

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