Learning Phonics: Analytic or Synthetic?

Multiple studies point to the same thing: Recognizing words is one of the MOST critical factors in early reading and later success. And that is what Phonics does! Phonics helps kids recognize words, making it one of the MOST IMPORTANT first step in learning reading.

There are broadly two main methodologies in learning phonics, Analytics and Synthetic. Today we will understand what are the differences between these 2 methodologies and whether one is indeed more effective than the other.

What is Synthetic Phonics?

Synthetic phonics is a method of teaching where words are broken down into the smallest units of sound which we call phonemes. From there, children are taught the sound of each letter and learn how to blend the phonemes together to be able to pronounce the word. The process of blending sounds to create words is where the term “Synthetic” was derived. This would mean that children learn to read words they have never heard before, in turn accelerating their reading ability at a young age.

Example: In the word cat, children learn to identify three individual phonemes using the synthetic phonics method: “C”, “A”, “T” which can be blended back together to produce a word.

What is Analytic Phonics?

Analytics phonics is another method of teaching where children are taught to recognize whole words by sight first, before breaking down the word into smaller units of sound. Much like the reverse of synthetic methodology or what we call “Reverse Engineering”, letter sounds are taught after reading has begun. From experience, a lot of students that struggled with reading was taught this methodology in school.  There was little incentive for children to understand how each letter sounds when they are already able to read the words. It is also unclear to the teachers whether students have picked up the sound of the letters.

Example: In the word cat, children learn to identify and the pronunciation of the word “CAT” before analysing and breaking down the word into three individual phonemes “C”, “A”, “T” and learning the sounds of it.

Synthetic Phonics vs Analytic Phonics

As we can see from the above example, Synthetic offers a much more accelerated path to enable our child to start reading at a young age, allowing them to absorb knowledge younger and be ahead of their peers. However, it is noteworthy that the use of synthetic phonics does not exclude the use of analytic phonics. There are more complex words in the world of English that cannot be learned by breaking them into smaller parts and children must learn them by sight. These are often referred to as ‘sight words’.

How Paced Learning Reading Program teaches Phonics

Taught by our highly experienced phonics specialist, the Little Pace Phonics Program focuses on a 3-stage process of Recognition, Literacy and Proficiency. The entire learning flow is paced according to a child’s learning ability, to enable efficient knowledge absorption while retaining a strong interest and drive within the child to learn and develop. This methodology allows faster learners to maximize their learning potential, yet ensuring that average learners are also able to progress effectively as they gradually pick up the momentum, allowing them to be stretched, but not stressed.

In the first stage of recognition, we focus on the quick introduction of new sounds, with priority on vowels, instead of alphabetical order, so as to allow our students to read a wider range of easily decodable words earlier. This would greatly improve their phonemic awareness, which is their ability to hear and manipulate individual phonemes.

Example: A child that has been introduced to the sounds of  “a”, “e”,”o”,”t” can easily read the words toe, eat, to, oat etc.

Building on their initial phonemic awareness and simple letter-sound recognition, we next focus on Literacy where more emphasis is placed on the understanding of words, building on their vocabulary with blending words.

As the student progressed, proficiency became the key focus. More focus will be placed on fluency and comprehension. Complex sight words would also be introduced, allowing students to understand these unique words.

Here is a preview of how our Online Phonics Classes are conducted.

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