Part 4: Identifying the sounds in words

Hearing the sound

The main phonic skill for writing is to start with the spoken word, then listen, identify and write the sounds in that word.

This ability to hear the sounds in words is called phonological awareness. For example, with the word ‘bin’, if you listen you can hear the sounds ‘b..i..n’. Then if you know how to write those letter sounds, you can write the word ‘bin’ without help. This is the opposite to the skill needed for blending.

The children are taught to listen for the sounds in words, from day one. Again the Finger Phonics books are a useful starting place. For example, take the letter ‘s’ page. The children are asked if they can hear a ‘s’ sound in ‘sun’?… or in ‘snake’?,…. or in ‘dog’? In the beginning they think there is a ‘s’ in all the words. Gradually they realise what is expected, and listen carefully.

The aim is for them to hear the sound and know where it comes within the word, whether it is at the beginning, middle or end. This starts to develop their phonological awareness. Some children can hear the sounds easily and others require far more help.