According to wiki: Phonics is a method for teaching reading and writing of the English language by developing learners' phonemic awareness—the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes—in order to teach the correspondence between these sounds and the spelling patterns (graphemes) that represent them.

In my words, the ability to spell it when heard the word, or pronounce it when saw the spelling. such as, 'o' in 'dog' has a different sound as in 'code'.

But if a kid is already in an English speaking environment, such as mine, the pronunciation will be rectified by ppl around him, the spelling will be picked up as the everyday exposure, does he/she still need learn phonics?

I personally takes English skills need learning as

  • basic
    • vocabulary and phrases, this is the foundation
    • grammar, this is hard to summarize by a kid himself
  • advanced
    • understand the subtle difference of synonyms, as in mood, social identity of speaker and audience etc
    • write properly for different contexture

For the phonics part I take it as important for kid not in an English speaking environment, so that to derive on his/her own, but not necessary for one who is already immersed in.

But surely I have no idea on education, I must be ignorant somewhere as it seems now in the last year of kindergarten (K2) and first year of primary school (P1), phonics are taught, for 2 years! Pls kindly correct my blindspot?

  • Phonics is one part of one method to teach reading and writing, not necessarily speaking. Especially with English where there are so many irregular spellings, it often makes sense to teach patterns of sounds rather than rote memorization of words.
    – Andrew
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 1:00

1 Answer 1


Some people believe phonics is a good way to teach people to read English. Otherrs, including me, disagree. But it was developed to teach people in English speaking environments to read English. It is not a method designed to teach English pronunciation. So whether or not phonics is a good way to teach English speakers to read English, it is irrelevant whether people learning to READ are doing so in an environment where they will learn how to SPEAK English in an idiomatic way without formal schooling.

  • What’s the difference between reading and pronunciation? Phonics can’t tell you the meaning of a new word, can only help you derive the pronunciation, isn’t it?
    – athos
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 2:11
  • 2
    The purpose of phonics is not to derive or teach correct pronunciation. Its purpose is to make the correlation between visual symbol and actual sound consistent. The idea is that the child already knows both the pronunciation and meaning of the word "knee" but can't read it because of the silent "k" in its spelling. If we spell the word consistently with its modern pronunciation, the child will more quickly grasp the general principle behind reading. This may be true, but the child will not learn to read English as it actually appears outside the class room. As I said, I don't like it. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 3:15
  • do you mean that, take the concept of “knee” as example, a child without phonics knowledge might know both the spell (“k-n-e-e”) and the pronunciation ([ni:]), but might hesitate when he read the word, because when he tried to read it out loud or silently (whereas he actually pronounces it in his mind silently), he finds the link between “k-n-e-e” and [ni:] broken, so have to first go from “k-n-e-e” to “knee”(concept) then from “knee”(concept) to [ni:]? That does have some reason there.
    – athos
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 4:13
  • Yes, that is the logic. I have tried to explain the argument for phonics as a logical position. I do not happen to agree with it because it delays the student's ability to read English as it actually appears in books, signage, television, etc. Nevertheless, the pro-phonics position is not silly. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 4:44

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