The Good Curriculum Phonics Program is a complete, definitive language starter program achieving excellent results in both schools and amongst many hundreds of homeschoolers. This program is simple to learn and easy to understand. Unlike many phonics programs with limited scope, TGC Phonics Program is an intensive, systematic and comprehensive program.
Why Teach Phonics?
The written symbol of an English word has no pictorial resemblance to the meaning of the word. For example, the written word ‘hand’ does not look anything like a hand — it is really only a set of symbols representing the sound of that word. Because we use an alphabetic sound/symbol code to represent words, the most effective way to learn to read and write must be through the deciphering of this code, i.e. through phonics.
A method of teaching flows from the philosophy which undergirds it. The TGC Phonics method is based on good moral principles which are supported by scientific principles of the brain and learning. Experience shows that those who embrace the nine points of learning stated below (and actively practice them) achieve the best results.
The Nine Points of Learning
We learn best:
1. when we involve the whole person (mental, spiritual and physical)
2. through the satisfaction of genuine effort
3. utilizing as many of our five senses as possible
4. when there are meaning and purpose
5. when new concepts are built upon what is already known
6. through being challenged to think analytically and logically
7. within an orderly framework
8. when we are accountable for our work
9. when our learning is consolidated by review and testing.
The Good Curriculum Phonics Program aims to teach the student the skills of communication—listening, speaking, reading, writing and spelling which are basic to experiencing satisfaction and well-being in life. Using the phonograms and rules, the student is able to make sense of the English language, which is generally considered inconsistent.
The Good Curriculum Phonics Program teaches writing, reading and spelling simultaneously. As many of the five senses as possible are used to consolidate what is being learned. Whether students learn more effectively through visual perception or auditory perception, they are given a wide range of opportunities to retain what has been learned.
The Good Curriculum Phonics Program begins by teaching students to recognize the written symbols for the 42 sounds which make up the English language, rather than teaching the names of the letters of the alphabet. The letter symbols representing these sounds are called phonograms. Phonograms may consist of a single letter or a group of letters. Multiple letter phonograms cannot be broken into separate sounds, as they represent one unit of sound.
A sound may be represented by more than one phonogram. For example, the sound ‘ay’ can be represented by ai, a, eigh, ey or ei, depending on the word in which it is used. In the same way, a phonogram may represent more than one sound. For example, ‘c’ can sound like ‘k’ in cat and like ‘s’ in city.
Students first learn to read and write the phonograms representing the 26 letters of the alphabet (the Single Phonograms). They then proceed to master the multiple letter phonograms.
Writing the phonograms at the same time as orally learning to recognize them is a fundamental principle of the method. The kinesthetic ‘feel’ of the shape of the letters as students form them uses the sense of feeling and movement to consolidate the message to the brain. This early writing training helps to develop neat, legible handwriting and forms a good foundation for future cursive writing.
Precise speaking of sounds also uses the sense of feeling, as students feel the positions of tongue, lips, and teeth for each different sound. This can offer valuable help to students with speech difficulties.
Vocabulary and Rules
After the first 58 phonograms are taught students begin to work through a vocabulary list, beginning with frequently used words. Each word is broken down into particular phonograms and analyzed for rules. The rules may govern the position of phonograms and the addition of prefixes and suffixes. The word analysis challenges students’ brains to think analytically and helps to develop logic.
A set of explanation marks is used for those aspects of a word which are not covered by rules. Continually motivating students to use the rules in selecting correct phonograms develops their ability to analyze. This skill will transfer to other areas of learning.
At a certain stage in the list, sentence writing begins and with it the teaching of grammar. Students will naturally begin to read as they learn to blend the sounds of the phonograms.
As students progress through the vocabulary list, their reading ability will expand, hence basal readers with limited vocabulary need not be used. These are usually stilted and unnatural. Reading ‘real’ books allows students to experience excellent written prose right from the start. This will enhance their oral and written expression. The continual reading to students of excellent stories, novels and informative books from an early age will also encourage a love for good literature and develop expressive ability with words.
The elements of grammar are introduced in the first and second year. This is accompanied by student exercises which review spelling rules and help clinch the concepts.
We will expand and talk more about the nine-point philosophy next week.
The Good Curriculum is a comprehensive video-based, self-taught, self-paced, reading-intensive, writing-intensive, systematic online K-12 curriculum.