Synthetic Phonics: A search for meaning.

18th June 2014

It has long since been an argument of the anti-phonics lobby that synthetic phonics 

approaches to reading hinders learners when it comes to understanding the text. They 

say learners spout sounds parrot fashion and comprehension can only come from making 

meaning from the text.

Whilst the fact that deriving meaning from text is the ultimate goal of anyone learning to 

read, how can anyone ever hope to do this without the tools with which to accomplish such 

a task? Through guesswork and memorisation? This outdated approach has left swathes of 

our children frustrated and in some cases virtually illiterate. 

The whole point of synthetic phonics is to imprint phonemic awareness on learners so 

that decoding words becomes automatic, instinctive and intuitive. Groping and grasping 

at partially remembered word shapes becomes a thing of the past and learners can then 

expend their valuable energy and attention on what it’s really all about, understanding the 

written language.


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