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Frequently Asked Questions About Synthetic Phonics


What is Phonics and why is it effective for learning English?

Phonics is a teaching method that focuses on the relationship between sounds and letters. It helps learners understand how individual letters or groups of letters in English correspond to specific sounds. This knowledge is crucial for accurate pronunciation and decoding words while reading. Phonics provides a strong foundation for learning English by helping learners recognize patterns and develop their vocabulary and reading skills.



Why should we teach synthetic phonics?


The primary goal of phonics instruction is to make children aware of the systematic relationships between letters and sounds, and that written, and spoken words are composed of letter patterns.  Teaching synthetic phonics enables children to recognize words quickly and accurately which is a fundamental part of learning to read.  They will also excel in spelling and develop solid pronunciation skills.


When should we start teaching phonics?


Research has shown that children who master the art of reading early, fare better at school than those who don’t.  Therefore, the sooner you begin teaching children synthetic phonics, the better.  Although a child as young as two years, will not have developed the skills necessary for writing, it is possible to introduce the alphabet letter names and sounds.


What is Synthetic Phonics?


Synthetic phonics is the process of teaching children to read through the blending of different letter sounds (phonemes) to make words.  For example, pronouncing each phoneme in the word cat  /c/-/a/-/t/ is a method that synthetic phonics employs when blending the different letter sounds / combinations together.  Through this method, children synthesise the word and use this information to process and spell new words they hear or read.

A systematic and methodical approach to teaching synthetic phonics ensures that teachers follow a planned route to ensure the course produces consistent results.  In the case of FootStep Phonics, children are taught the simplest sounds first, then progress to learn complex letter combinations.  This technique provides the necessary foundation for future literacy and speaking skills.


Why should we choose the FootStep Phonics Program?


FootStep Phonics is a comprehensive 5-Step synthetic phonics instruction curriculum, consisting of Student Workbooks, Flashcards and a Teachers Manual that employs a multi-sensory approach, enabling you to bring your phonics sessions to life.  Each step has been carefully levelled to comply with the stringent UK education requirements to help develop successful and confident early readers.


Why are the letters not introduced in alphabetical order?


FootStep Phonics has been developed in line with orders suggested by various government educational departments, including the UK. The letter order has been chosen in such a manner so as to assist children in word formation from an early stage.


What age is STEP 1 best suited for?


Step 1 is best suited for ages 4 and above, as younger children whose fine motor skills may not be fully developed may experience difficulty in letter formation.


I want to use it with older children and don't want them to start at STEP 1.  

Is this possible?


Yes, with FootStep Phonics it is possible to have children begin at different levels. This can be done after assessing individual ability and can be employed individually or as a whole class by simply selecting which Step you feel suits them best.


We would like to try FootStep Phonics in our school.  

Do you provide trial lessons?


Yes. We want to ensure that you are 100% satisfied with our program before you incorporate it into your curriculum.  Trial lessons are supplied free of charge to all schools in Hong Kong and we encourage you to register your interest in this service by contacting us.

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