Even if you know some of the basics of English, you might find it helpful to review some materials on phonics. Basically, phonics is a method that teaches reading based on taking the audible building blocks of words and assigning meaning to them – similar to working with syllables. However, when you’re learning with phonics, there’s more of an emphasis on verbally sounding out each segment of a word. As you learn to recognize meanings associated certain groups of letters, you’ll have an easier time comprehending sentences – as well as speaking and writing them.
Correlating sounds to written letters
Once you know how to read, write, and speak a language, you may take for granted the ever-present relationship between what is heard and what is written. When you were learning to speak your native language, you probably encountered words that had to be broken down into smaller chunks that didn’t necessarily have meaning by themselves. Similarly, as you learned to read and write in your native language, you probably also had to rely on these verbal building blocks to learn how they were represented on paper.
Therefore, when you’re trying to learn a new language, you’ll need to work with these pre-existing correlations – as well as try to develop ones for the new language you’re learning. Phonics can help you learn the patterns of the English language by comparing them to your native language. While this may at first seem confusing, once you learn to correlate sounds to images, you’ll be able to use much more of your natural language acquisition abilities to help you along.
Getting the most out of your existing language patterns
Babies are the masters of language acquisition. Before they begin to study one language exclusively, they are capable of babbling every sound found in every human language on earth. However, as they grow and begin to practice one language, they lose the ability to hear and speak sounds that aren’t used in the language they’re learning – which is why you’ll always speak a foreign language with an accent. Unfortunately, once the ability to hear these different sound patterns is lost, you aren’t likely to gain it back later in life.
Even if you can’t hear a specific sound, you can still use phonics to help you identify those areas and build your comprehension skills. This will improve your understanding of written English, and may also help you identify weak points in your verbal speech patterns. While these exercises may seem very simple, they can be useful regardless of how much English you already know.
Unfortunately, many teachers feel that phonics is not the best method for teaching people how to read and understand English. Therefore, it’s rarely mentioned to individuals that are trying to learn English as a second language. If you believe your learning style might be better suited to learning English through phonics, consider investing in programs like “Hooked on Phonics” to help you improve your language skills.