What role does learning high frequency words play in phonics?

(104 Posts)
Kaida Wed 21-Nov-12 13:14:51

I thought in phonics there were no flashcards, lists of words to learn by sight etc. But lots of kids going through the care of the several foster carers in my family (several different schools) have these still. Have I got confused somewhere? (entirely probable, my firstborn is too young for reading yet)

picketywick Wed 21-Nov-12 14:44:00

I am an adult; and dont get phonics. I suppose it doesnt suit all children. Some teachers are said to dislike it.

Hulababy Wed 21-Nov-12 17:06:30

Depends what you mean by flashcards.

We have flashcards for sounds and on one side there are 3 or 4 words for blending, using those sounds.

anothercuppaplease Wed 21-Nov-12 17:41:02

Some words that come back frequently in books are 'tricky' words and are difficult to figure out even if the child understands basic phonics. That's why I think some schools/teachers will give out lists of words, I remember the only list we have ever received included words such as 'I', 'said', 'he', 'she', 'we', etc which are words that come back all the time in books. Learning these words by sight in my opinion gives them extra confidence to start reading the first level reading books and complements well the phonics method.

mrz Wed 21-Nov-12 17:46:13

high frequency words are, in whatever system you use, just that, words that appear frequently in text. In phonics they wouldn't be taught as sight words, not even the ones with tricky bits, but some schools are still using mixed methods while claiming to teach phonics.

nailak Wed 21-Nov-12 18:05:35

well you cant spell to, go, and stuff using phonics....

yes most schools do mixed methods,

mrz Wed 21-Nov-12 18:11:31

What a strange idea of course you can spell to and go using phonics.

Feenie Wed 21-Nov-12 18:13:44

And most schools fail 1 in 5 children...

nailak Wed 21-Nov-12 18:17:57

not stage 1 phonics though

CokeFan Wed 21-Nov-12 18:20:20

I thought the high frequency or "tricky" words were ones that you might have to initially learn because they are common and therefore likely to be encountered early on. It is still possible to decode them with phonics but the "rules" you need to do so aren't covered until later on.

Hulababy Wed 21-Nov-12 18:24:16

to and go are taught very early on as incidental teaching in phonics.

You say "in this word that letter is code for oo" so when you blend you say t oo to make to

peacypops Wed 21-Nov-12 18:29:15

I think most schools have a mixed approach to learning. The emphasis is on 'phonics' but as cokefan says, in the very early stages of phonics, it would be difficult for a child to decode some of the high frequency words.

mrz Wed 21-Nov-12 18:32:08

In any stage of phonics you can spell and decode to and go ...

Pozzled Wed 21-Nov-12 18:35:30

That's why if you are teaching phonics well you need to use suitable for phonics teaching, like Songbirds. They are specially written so that children only meet words they can decode. They're also (IME) a lot more interesting than the older books because they don't need so much repetition.

nailak Wed 21-Nov-12 18:38:49

how mrz?

tt and then o as in octopus, doesnt make to? it makes toh?

isnt 2 letters one sound and magic e and oo stage 3 phonics?

Pozzled Wed 21-Nov-12 18:42:28

You do it as Hulababy said- "in this word, that letter says 'oo' so the word is 't' 'oo'".

Same thing for 'go'.

My DD is at the very early stages of reading, but she knows that letters can make different sounds in different words.

Hulababy Wed 21-Nov-12 18:52:54

We do Debbie Hepplewaithe's Floppy Phonics at school and stage 1+ introduces some 2 letter sounds - ss, ff, le, ll etc

mrz Wed 21-Nov-12 18:57:59

No nailak it isn't stage 3 phonics, perhaps you mean Letters and Sounds phase 3 which some schools use. Even in L&S children are taught as Hulababy and Pozzled say ... this word has a tricky spelling and in this word (to) the letter <o> is how we spell the sound "oo" and in this word (go) the letter <o> is how we spell the sound "oe" ...

The basic concepts are that a sound can be written with one, two, three or four letters.
One sound can have different spellings.
One spelling can represent different sounds.

unlike some adults even small children find this easy to accept.

Mashabell Wed 21-Nov-12 19:02:13

Until the arrival of synthetic phonics, phonics used to mean only the teaching of the main sounds for the main English graphemes, such as ‘a cat sat’ or ‘lean, clean, mean’ or ‘no, so, go’. Learning to read the words in which those graphemes have other sounds (any, many, bread, great, to, do) used to be called ‘learning to sight-read tricky words’.

In SP, all teaching of reading and writing is phonics. So teaching children to read words with strange spellings is still phonics too, although in practice children still learn those words as sight-words, or use context to help them with decoding them, instead of simply sounding them out.
Masha Bell

Kaida Wed 21-Nov-12 19:07:54

"High frequency words are, in whatever system you use, just that, words that appear frequently in text. In phonics they wouldn't be taught as sight words, not even the ones with tricky bits, but some schools are still using mixed methods while claiming to teach phonics."

That's what I thought mrz (having lurked around on here and probably heard you say similar before) but it surprised me that every school that we've as an extended family (with several foster carers, all having had over the years lots of kids at different schools) had contact with has used a list of words sent home that the kids just have to learn to recognise. It seems quite rare for a school to use pure phonics.

EdithWeston Wed 21-Nov-12 19:14:02

Phonics has always and still does mean the teaching of the code of phoneme/grapheme correspondence, and has been in use for hundreds of years.

Leaving children to guess ("use context") or have the immense burden of sight reading by rote, or mixing methods has been shown over and over again to leave a fifth of children struggling.

Mashabell Wed 21-Nov-12 19:15:13

It seems quite rare for a school to use pure phonics.
Because with spellings like 'only, once, other, won, woman, women' it is impossible to do so.

Schools send home the tricky high frequency words for extra practice, because until children can read the following without hesitation they cannot read fluently.

In the first 100 most HF words, 42 are not entirely decodable:
the, he, be, we, me, she,
of, to, was, want, all, call, one, said,
you, by, my, only, come, could, do, down, into, look, now, other, right, some, there, two, when, what, where, which, who, why, your,
are, have, before, more, were,

In next 200, 55 are clearly tricky:
another, any, many, saw, water, small, laughed,
bear, great, head, ready,
ever, never, every, eyes,
find, friends, giant, I’ll, I’m, key, live, river,
people, pulled, put, thought, through, were, work, would,
coming, everyone, gone,
most, mother, oh, once,
grow, how, know, snow, town, window,
book, food, good, room, school, soon, too, took, door,
Mr Mrs

Another 13 are slightly so (partly depending on accent):
after, asked, can’t, fast, last, plants
animals, dragon, magic,
clothes, cold, old, told.

mrz Wed 21-Nov-12 19:16:40

In the first 100 most HF words, 42 are not entirely decodable: RUBBISH!

EdithWeston Wed 21-Nov-12 19:20:51

Bur, masha, the words you list are decode able!

If you do not understand how phonics works, are you after links to improve your knowledge?

IsabelleRinging Wed 21-Nov-12 19:47:22

I disagree Mashabel, some words are trickier than others, but all of the first 100 are decodeable.

If schools are following Letters and Sounds, as in my school, then the tricky words are taught in Phase 2 (to, go, the, I, into, no), these are taught as being decodeable (with a tricky bit), but in reality for children who are only just learning to decode simple words such as in, on, at, sat, pin, etc the reality is that they do learn these words by memory alone in order to decode and read the first Phonics books. I don't believe that many reception children are actively decoding the word 'the' or 'I' as they read those very first books which contain them.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now