About Phonics by Phone

vlcsnap-2014-12-09-11h18m44s90Phonics means the sounds associated with individual letters and groups of letters, that when we blend them together enable us to pronounce words correctly.  But there is far more to it than that.

The Phonics by Phone project draws on the expertise of experienced educators and education resource publishers.

The core strategies of the Phonics by Phone audio units, and back-up materials on this website, are drawn from best practice in synthetic phonics teaching around the world. The order of the more than 42 sounds taught follows that of the Jolly Phonics scheme used by thousands of schools, adapted to suit Ghana’s national kindergarten curriculum and policies on mother tongue teaching.

The kAlphabetic_code_oneey idea at the centre of the Phonics by Phone audio units is that each sound is represented by a letter or letters which are “code” for the sound.  These codes and their associated example words draw on an alphabetic code for which we have Debbie Hepplewhite and Phonics International to thank.


The alphabetic chart (click on the link to download a pdf) was developed by Phonics International and builds in words and images familiar in Ghana – for example “yam” and “cedi”. For these modifications we have to thank the many teachers who developed the Ullo Phonics materials, also Sabre Charitable Trust and Educators International. All this means that the phonics concept is ready to use in Ghana.

So, what is phonics all about?

Our scheme sets out some basic road signs to guide teachers and parents through the process of teaching children to read using phonics.

First, what order should one teach the sounds?  The first sounds should be those that occur most frequently and allow the maximum number of common words to be blended– s a t i p n. Other sounds follow in a logical pattern – not just the alphabetic order.

Once early readers are able to:

Recognise these sounds when they hear them; Identify the letter when they hear the sound;  Say the sound when they see the letter; and Write the letter when they hear the sound

…they will already be able to sound out each sound and combine them (blend) to read short words like:

cat, sat, pin, nip, sit, nap, ink, ant and so on.

And they will be able to break words down into individual sounds (segment) to spell.

So after learning the sounds and letter formations for just these first six letters, children are already on the way to reading and writing.

As the course progresses, more single letter sounds are added, as well as sounds that are made up of more than one letter like ch and sh, oo and ow, and igh.

And all the time the pupils are taken through multi-sensory activities so that they know the letters, and the sound each one makes, just as well as they know their own name.

The children will hear the sound, say the sound, sing songs with the sound, and make actions for the sound, all in association with the letters and how they are formed.

What does all this mean?

It means that children will not need to memorise a word in order to read it the next time. They will be able to work out what the word says – what it looks like, and what it sounds like – without any help.

They will be independent readers. And independent readers can read to learn!