Phonics Program - FAQs

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For general help on using the interactive resources or sharing the materials, see the How it Works page.

If you need more help, contact us.

Phonics Program FAQs

What is phonics?

Phonics is a method of decoding written English that is widely practiced as a pre-reading skill.

By learning the individual phonemes (sounds) of the letters, the student is able to accurately blend unfamiliar words by recognizing sound patterns.

Phonics is an alternative approach to the more traditional reading method where the learner must memorize each new word they encounter.

What is a phoneme?

A phoneme is the single unit of sound in a word, for example, /p/ in pan

In this program, phonemes will often be referred to as sounds to simplify instructions for learners.

Using slashes around the letter indicates that it is a sound. However, these are not always used to avoid confusing learners with extra symbols.

Click on the image below to view or download the common phonemes in English, or see the interactive version with audio.

Which phase of the Phonics Program is right for my learner?

Our Phonics Program has five phases. To find out which level is suitable for your learner, go to the Levels page.

There is a free online assessment with helpful charts to help you decide. If you are still unsure, contact us.

What does each phase include?

For each sound or skill in the Phase, you will receive:

  • interactive flashcards with audio
  • interactive games
  • printable flashcards with the images and words
  • a high-res poster in A4 and A3 size
  • picture mats with questions and answers
  • handwriting worksheets
  • additional activities and worksheets
  • free videos with game ideas
  • general lesson plan templates

Watch this short video to see a demo of the learning materials. 

Visit the Phonics store to download your digital bundles.

In which order should I teach the phonics materials?

We’ve made this easy for you! We have divided the phonics program into five phases of learning. Click on the images below to zoom in.

Phase 1 covers the foundational skills of phonics, starting with the highest-frequency sounds and sight words. 

As your learner moves up the phases, the skills and sounds become more challenging. Therefore, Phase 5 is the most difficult.

To choose the correct level, take the free online test on the Levels page.

The Phonics store and Product Listing pages are divided into these 5 phases so that you can find the right resources easily.

What is blending and stretching?

Blending is the skill that joins individual sounds together, for example, m-a-p is map.

Stretching, or segmenting, is the opposite skill. It separates a whole word into individual sounds. For example, hot is h-o-t.

Watch this short video demonstrating these skills.

Note that when the instruction “Sound it out” is given, the student is expected to stretch the word into the separate sounds.

What are common words?

Common words are high-frequency words that are useful when learning English. They are also known as sight words.

This course selects the highest-frequency sight words from the Dolch list to best prepare your learner for reading and speaking English.

For each Phase of the Phonics Program, we introduce 30 new Dolch words, starting with the highest-frequency sight words first.

There are interactive flashcards showing the word with audio, so your learner can hear how to correctly pronounce the word then practice.

Read this blog to find out more information.

What is a first sound?

A first sound, also known as an initial sound, is the sound that is heard at the start of the word. For example, /f/ in fish, or /sh/ in sheep.

Grouping words with the same first sound and isolating the first sound is an important foundational skill.

Mastering first sounds is an important early step in phonics. It also allows your learner to expand their vocabulary and review the letter sounds.

For every first sound, we have resources to help your learner practice, with posters, word lists, flashcards, word mats and interactive games.

Visit the Phonics store to download your first sound learning materials.

What is a last sound?

A last sound, also known as the ending sound, is the sound that is heard at the end of the word. For example, /p/ in sheep, or /sh/ in fish.

Grouping words with the same last sound and isolating the last sound is another important foundational skill.

After mastering first sounds, we recommend focusing on last sounds next. Again, it is a great way for your learner to expand their vocabulary and review the letter sounds.

To practice last sounds, we have posters, word lists, flashcards, word mats and interactive games.

Visit the Phonics store to download your last sound resources.

What is a middle sound?

A middle sound is the sound that is heard in the middle of the word. For example, /a/ in cat, or /i/ in fish.

Grouping words with the same middle sound and isolating the middle sound is another important foundational skill.

After mastering the first then last sounds, we recommend focusing on short vowel middle sounds next (a,e,i,o,u). 

When your learner moves up through the phases of the Phonics Program, they will also learn long vowel and diphthong vowel middle sounds.

We have chosen lots of useful vocabulary words to help your learner review these middle sounds at each phase.

To practice middle sounds, we have posters, word lists, flashcards, word mats and interactive games.

Visit the Phonics store to download your middle sound activities.

What does CVC mean?

CVC is an acronym for consonant vowel consonant, which refers to a 3-sound word. For example, p-a-n (pan) or b-u-s (bus). 

When your learner is first learning to blend and stretch, we use CVC words with short vowel middle sounds to help keep it simple.

Phase 1 focuses on CVC blending, then Phase 2 covers CVC stretching.

As your learner progresses to Phase 4, they will tackle CCVC words. These words have a consonant cluster at the start of the word. 

Towards the later phases of the Phonics Program, they will encounter CVCC words, where the consonant cluster is at the end.

Visit the Phonics store to download your CVC word resources.

What is the difference between a short and a long vowel?

Short vowel sounds (a, e ,i, o, u, oo) are always shown in red, e.g. /a/ in bag, /e/ in hen, /i/ in pig, /o/ in fox, /u/ in sun, /oo/ in book.

Long vowel sounds (a, e, i, o, u, oo) are always presented in blue, e.g. /a/ in cake, /e/ in bee, /i/ in kite, /o/ in bone, /u/ in cube, /oo/ in moon.

By color-coding the letters to represent the specific sounds, we help your learner differentiate between long and short vowel sounds.

Other phonics programs may use the IPA symbols, but these can confuse young learners who have just learnt how to write letter characters.

Visit the Phonics store or Product Listing page to find short vowel or long vowel activities.

What is a diphthong vowel?

A diphthong, also known as a gliding vowel sound, is one sound made from two vowel sounds blended together.

In our Phonics and Reading Programs, they are written: ar, or, oi, ow, air, ir and ear. See the phoneme chart above for some examples.

Other phonics programs may use the IPA symbols, but these can confuse young learners who have just learnt how to write letter characters.

Visit the Phonics store or Product Listing page to find diphthong vowel activities.

What is a digraph?

A digraph is one sound made from two letters, such as /ch/, /sh/, /th/, or /ng/. Therefore, the word fish (f-i-sh) has three sounds, not four.

In this Phonics Program, we focus on these four digraph sounds in Phase 1 and Phase 2. 

Other digraphs /ck/, /kn/, /ph/, /wh/, /wr/ and /ss/ are covered in later phases, but the silent letters are introduced in the Reading Program.

For lots of resources to practice the digraph sounds, check out the Phonics store or Product Listing page.

What is a trigraph?

A digraph is one sound made from three letters, such as /air/, /are/, /ear/, /igh/ and /ore/.

In this Phonics Program, these sounds are simplified and categorized into blue long vowel sounds, or represented as diphthong vowels. 

Although words containing these sounds are practiced, the specific spelling patterns are covered in more detail in the Reading Program.

What is a grapheme?

A grapheme is the written symbol that represents a sound. For example, ‘b’ is the first sound in bed, ‘ch’ is the first sound in chair.

The grapheme might be one letter, two letters (digraph sound), or even three (trigraph sound). 

Our resources encourage the learner to practice recognizing and writing the letter symbols in both upper and lowercase forms.

There are many resources that focus on linking the letters to the sounds, such as the flashcards, interactive PowerPoint games or word mats.

Find more resources in the Phonics store.

How do you count sounds?

To count sounds, the learner must first stretch the word into its separate sounds. We only count up to 4-sound words in this program.

For example, door has two sounds (d-oor). Box has three sounds (b-o-x). Lamp has four sounds (l-a-m-p). 

Watch this video to learn different methods of stretching and counting sounds. 

How can I measure the progress of my student?

There are a few ways to assess how much your student is learning:

  1. Save their printed work in a folder portfolio to see how they are progressing.
  2. Keep a record of their development using this handy tracker chart.
  3. Use our end of phase tests to measure how much they have learnt or highlight areas to focus on.
Learning any new skill takes practice, so we recommend that you rotate the lessons and return to the different skills and sounds periodically. 

I've never taught phonics before. Can I use these resources?

Yes! The materials are comprehensive and ready to use with minimal preparation to save you time.

Each pack includes all the vocabulary you need to practice with your learner, and the interactive flashcards show you how to say each word.

The skills and sounds are clearly set out in each phase to help your learner progress. There are lots of activities for them to practice their skills.

For more information, read the How it Works page.

How is this different to other phonics programs?

These materials have been created and classroom-tested by a phonics specialist to provide the learner with all the pre-reading skills they need.

What other skills will be developed?

In addition to the core phonic skills of blending and stretching, your young learner will practice and develop the following:

Fine motor skills
The worksheets are designed to encourage the student to practice handwriting and coloring. These are fine motor skills that require concentration and coordination. By honing these skills, they will start to write independently using both upper and lowercase letters.

Cognitive development
Learning new vocabulary, playing games and answering comprehension questions will help the student gain confidence in their own abilities. By engaging in new tasks and activities, they will respond better to strategies that help them to learn.

Using technology
The interactive games require basic mouse control from the learner. They will practice moving and clicking the cursor and develop their computer skills while playing and reviewing the sounds.

The resources are flexible and designed to be adaptable to your learner’s needs. The potential uses of the resources are limitless, for example the flashcard sets can be used in a variety of ways that allow the student to learn and discover their interests.

My learner only writes in capital letters. Is this OK?

Most learners will practice uppercase letters, also known as capital letters, before moving to lowercase letters.

However, it is important that both forms are presented to the learner so that they can recognize and write lowercase letters independently.

Our phonics resources always present both upper and lowercase letters to help them identify the letters in both forms.

Every activity sheet includes handwriting guidelines to help your learner write the letters correctly.

Visit the Phonics store for more activities to practice handwriting and letter recognition.

My student often confuses some of the letters. Should I be worried?

It is quite common for learners under the age of 7 to confuse letters, especially characters that look similar: b/d, g/q, i/j, f/t, p/q, m/w and n/u.  

Telling some letters apart can be difficult because the brain has to actively learn the direction of the straight and curved flicks that create letters.

By using our resources, your learner should begin to identify the differences through practicing recognizing and writing the letters. 

We also have some games to specifically target the problem letters! Check out our Teaching Ideas channel or our blog for more handy tips.

However, if you are still concerned after your child has practiced lots, or they are over the age of 7, you may wish to seek specialist advice.

My student can't pronounce some of the sounds. Can this program help?

Yes! Once your learner knows the alphabet, it is time to introduce them to the letter sounds and other phonics skills.

Start at Phase 1 of the Phonics Program and watch the animal alphabet video, or check out the object alphabet version.

You can also hear the consonant clusters and digraph sounds. Our interactive flashcards also demonstrate how to pronounce each new word. 

For more game ideas, subscribe to our blog or Teaching Ideas channel.

My learner doesn't recognize many pictures. How can I help expand their vocabulary?

The Phonics Program provides carefully-selected vocabulary for each new sound covered, and with practice, they will start to remember the words.

The vocabulary is presented as consistent images and easy-to-read words to help your learner retain the new words.

The flashcard images and words included in each pack are a great way to review and test vocabulary through matching exercises.

The posters, word lists and word mats provide a visual aid for your learner to help them practice.

The interactive games test the vocabulary words through engaging tasks such as sorting or multiple-choice questions.

Visit the Phonics store to get your resource packs.

Is this Phonics Program suitable for large groups or one-to-one tuition?

Our Phonics Program is designed to be flexible to your needs, whether you have one learner or a large class of students! 

They can be used as part of an online class, or in-person teaching since each pack comes with a variety of resources that you can adapt.

Many of the activities can be scaled to suit groups or solo work. For ideas on how to use these resources, see our blog or Teaching Ideas channel.

How quickly will my learner complete the Phonics Program?

This depends on the learner’s ability, your style of teaching and the duration of your classes.

However, as a rough guideline, it would be good to rotate through the packs in one phase over a couple of months to allow sufficient practice time.

The five phases of the Phonics Program will take around a year to complete, but some learners may master the sounds and skills sooner.

For example lesson plans and how to use the phonics resources, visit our blog or Teaching Ideas playlist.

When should I introduce silent letters?

Silent letters are not included in this Phonics Program as they may confuse the learner and spelling is not a primary aim of this course.

However, they are introduced in the Reading Program in Book 15 because we want learners to identify the question words and spelling patterns.

You might notice that some of the sight words have silent letters, but your learner does not need to notice this yet. 

Instead, they can repeat the pronunciation of the interactive flashcards and play the sight word games. Visit the Phonics store for more.

Can I share these resources with other parents / teachers?

Once you have purchased one of our digital packs, you can download and use it with as many of your own students as you wish.

You can send your students resources directly for them to revise or to complete as homework. 

However, you are not permitted to share any of these resources with other parents or teachers, as this breaches the terms and conditions of use.

You may not upload any of these resources to a shared drive such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

Please direct others who are interested in the resources to our website:

Will I receive printed copies after placing an order?

No, all the resources are virtual products for you to download. You only need to purchase one copy and you can use them with your learner/s.

Every digital pack includes interactive resources and printable resources that you can adapt to your student’s needs.

You can print the learning materials, or stick to the interactive digital resources – it’s up to you!

For help assembling the printable resources, check out the blog or the Teaching Ideas playlist.


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