Tips for Learning New Vocabulary Words

Common Phonics Patterns


Phonics is a method of teaching elementary school children basic reading and spelling based on common phonics patterns.  It breaks up language into its simplest components.  How this is works is that children learn the sounds of individual letters and then build on this knowledge to determine the sounds of letters in combination. This helps students learn to decode words using phonics rules and patterns.  Through this, it is possible for students to be able to easily learn how larger words are pronounced.

Common Phonics Patterns
Phonics are the most basic patterns in our language.  A phonic is a closed syllable which starts with a vowel and produces a specific speech pattern.  An easy way to introduce students to phonics and word families is through rhyming words.  This can help children decode the words because they share the same concept of vowels and consonants.  The difference is the word family that the rhyming words belong to.  Words outside the same word family can also rhyme and be similar though, so it is important to note the exceptions.

Phonics Rules
To make phonics easy to understand there are a few phonics rules to follow.  The most basic rule of phonics is that every word must contain a vowel.  When it is a one syllable word that ends in a consonant and has one vowel, the vowel will always be short.  Also, for every word that has a long vowel, an “e” on the end will be silent.  If there is a “w” before “or” the “or” will sound like “er”, and “q” is always followed by “u”.  When “c” or “g” is followed by “e, I, or y” they will have a soft sound.  Following these rules will help students understand how words are sounded out.

Teaching Phonics
There are two methods for teaching phonics commonly used.  There is the synthetic method that teaches individual sounds and then works on putting them into words.  There is also the analytical method that examines a word and then the student deconstructs the word to its letter sounds.  With this in mind, most students learn best when these methods are combined together as part of a teaching strategy.  Younger children should focus on individual letter sounds, vowel digraphs, common phonics patterns and consonant blends. 

Phonics readers can use a variety of strategies to understand a word.  By understanding the sound-spelling relationship, readers are able to process letters into words.  It provides them with a road map for reading comprehension and can help them contextualize the text.  Common phonics patterns also help improve vocabulary and spelling abilities because students are able to sound out the words and recognize words from a familiar pattern.  In fact, half of all words in the English language can be phonetically spelled which is what makes this teaching strategy so useful.