Phonics are the backbone of learning at Ready To Learn
- Our students learn and practise phonics throughout our Kindergarten, Primary School and Junior Secondary School courses.
- Our Senior Secondary School courses use Phonics to teach pronunciation. Our proprietary step-by-step phonics system teaches 44 basic phonemes, 22 beginning blends and 15 ending blends.
- The alphabet has 26 letters, but the letters, when pronounced as single sounds, can be ‘long’ or ‘short’! They can be joined and said as one different sound or they can be blended with the sound sliding from one to the other.
- The 44 standard sounds cover most examples of pronunciation. They are known as: phonemes, both vowels and consonants, digraphs, vowel digraphs, diphthongs and triphthongs.
- We pay particular attention to blended consonant sounds (that are located at the beginning and end of many words). These are not ‘extra’ to the 44 basic sounds we teach, but are the result of blending or sliding one sound into another sound.
- Over 35 years of teaching phonics in Hong Kong, our founder Elaine Shannon found that Hong Kong students typically struggle with consonant blends and find them the most difficult sounds to pronounce.
- Our system solves that problem. We integrate phonics practise into every lesson. They are taught in each of 324 lessons in our Kindergarten and Primary school courses.
- They continue to be used for decoding new words and pronunciation throughout Secondary school. We believe that our intense focus on phonics is the reason for our excellent excellent results in Cambridge University and Trinity College language tests.
- We teach vowels first and then consonants. As soon as possible we teach children to read. In practice this means after they have learnt 5 vowel sounds and 2 consonants they can read two words by themselves: ‘kick, cock’.
- We then introduce 1 more consonant -‘t’; the children can then read ‘tick, cat, cot’. This gives a tremendous boost of confidence.
- We also teach students how to decode words, so from the very beginning they can see new simple words and know how to read them.
This is the act of building up, or putting together, individual sounds. The children synthesise the sounds of the letters; they blend the sounds – just as synthesising music is blending musical notes. There are 44 phonemes (the smallest units of sound). Students begin with the simplest sounds and move gradually onto more difficult blended sounds.
This relies on the student being able to follow and understand the practice of ‘onset and rime’, to understand that apple begins with ‘a’, to decode long words into smaller parts, to ‘match’ words with pictures, to develop a reading list of ‘sight’ words (some words just have to be memorised) like was; saw; rhyme; rhythm. RTL has a completely holistic approach and it makes a difference to the students’ speech and reading competence.