Synthetic Phonics in Spain

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Synthetic Phonics, the most efficient way to learn English.
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Teaching Steps


The basis


What a typical Synthetic Phonics programme consists of


  • Learning letter sounds (as distinct from the letter names).

For example, /mm/ not muh, /ss/ not suh, /ff/ not fuh. The letter names can be taught later but should not be taught in the early stages.

  • Learning the 44 sounds and their corresponding letters/letter groups.

The English Alphabet Code 'Key' : 44 phonemes with their common 'sound pattern' representations:

Vowels (19):

  • /a/ mat
  • /ae/ ape, baby, rain, tray, they, eight
  • /air/ square, bear
  • /ar/ jar, fast
  • /e/ peg, bread
  • /ee/ sweet, me, beach, key, pony
  • /i/ pig, wanted
  • /ie/ kite, wild, light, fly
  • /o/ log, orange
  • /oe/ bone, boat, snow
  • /oi/ coin, boy
  • /oo/ book, would, put
  • /ow/ down, house
  • /or/ fork, ball, sauce, law,
  • /u/ plug, glove
  • /ur/ burn, teacher, work, first
  • /ue/ blue, moon, screw, tune
  • /uh/ (schwa) button, computer, hidden, doctor
  • /w/ wet, wheel

Consonants (25):

  • /b/ boy, rabbit
  • /ks/gz/ box exist
  • /c/k/ cat /key, duck, school
  • /ch/ chip, watch
  • /d/ dog, ladder
  • /f/ fish, coffee, photo, tough
  • /g/ gate, egg, ghost
  • /h/ hat, whole
  • /j/ jet, giant, cage, bridge
  • /l/ lip, bell, sample
  • /m/ man, hammer, comb
  • /n/ nut, dinner, knee, gnat
  • /ng/ ring, singer
  • /p/ pan, happy
  • /kw/ queen
  • /r/ rat, cherry, write
  • /s/ sun, dress, house, city, mice
  • /sh/ ship, mission, station, chef
  • /t/ tap, letter, debt
  • /th/ thrush
  • /th/ that
  • /v/ vet, sleeve
  • /y/ yes
  • /z/ zip, fizz, sneeze, is, cheese
  • /zh/ treasure
  • Learning to read words using sound blending.
  • Reading stories featuring the words the students have learned to sound out.
  • Demonstration exercises to show they comprehend the stories.


The 5 aims


The 5 main aims of Jolly Phonics


There is an alphabetic code to English. When a synthetic, systematic phonics method of teaching is used approximately 90% of words can be worked out (blended). Children taught with Jolly Phonics start with the alphabetic code, and should always use blending as the first strategy for working our unfamiliar words. By the time they attempt to read books for themselves, usually towards the end of the first term, the majority know 42 letter sounds, how to blend them to read regular words, and have a small knowledge of tricky words. They also know how to write simple regular words by listening for the sounds and writing the relevant letters. This results in higher standards being achieved, and far fewer children needing remedial help.

There are five main elements to the teaching:

1. Learning letter sounds - the 42 main sounds of English are taught, not just the alphabet sounds. There is a story that introduces the sound, and an action to help memorise it.

2. Learning letter formation - the children are shown exactly how to hold their pencil and form the letters. A multi-sensory method is used.

3. Blending - a technique for blending is taught so that the children can work out simple words, such as leg, hot, man etc., as well as regular words with consonant blends and digraphs e.g. fl-a-g, ch-o-p, sh-ee-p etc. The faster a child is at blending the easier it is for him/her to read.

4. Identifying Sounds in Words - in order for the children to understand the alphabetic code it is essential to teach them to hear and identify the sounds in words. After a few weeks of Jolly Phonics the majority of the children should be able to write simple words e.g. hat, bus, pig, spot, bump etc. by listening for the sounds in the words and writing the relevant letters. Once the digraphs have been taught e.g. ai, ee, ch, ar, oi etc then the children can write regular words with these digraphs, such as train, deep, chest, farm, boil etc. By the end of the second term the majority of children are able to write independently. As they know one way of writing the letter sounds, all they do is listen for the sounds in the words they want to write and put the relevant letters down on paper. Initially it is not conventional spelling but it can be read e.g. ‘Mie dad went too the shops and got us sum chips’. Accurate spelling develops by reading many books, learning the alternative vowel sounds and following a spelling programme.

5. Spelling the Tricky Words - in Jolly Phonics ‘tricky words’ tend to be the irregular keywords. There are three techniques that can be used:

a. Look (identify the irregularity & say the letter names), Cover, Write and Check
b. Say it as it sounds e.g. pronounce ‘mother’ - with a short /o/ sound so that it rhymes with ‘bother’
c. Mnemonics - ‘people eat omelettes people like eggs’ - to spell the word ‘people’


Source: © Sue Lloyd


Do's & Don'ts


Do's and Don'ts



  • read to the children and talk about the stories (oral comprehension).
  • teach the 42 letter sounds first and fast:
    - blending all-through-the-word for reading,
    - and segmenting all-through- the-word for spelling.
  • teach blending and segmenting of regular words only – for at least the first five weeks.
  • teach tricky words systematically – blending first for reading and then learning the correct pronunciation.
  • teach identification of sounds in words (all-through-the-word from left to right), and the main ways of writing the letters for the sounds.
  • use reading books with controlled texts and decodable words initially. Free choice can start when there is fluency in the reading and unknown words can be quickly worked out.




  • teach sight words*.
  • expect children, in the beginning, to read books that have words that cannot be blended because the letter sounds have not been taught.
  • use guessing words from the initial letter, picture or context for word identification.  
    (Blending is the strategy for working out words, and then context if the blending does not give a recognised word.)  
  • use letter names for the first few weeks.
  • spend time on phonemic awareness before teaching phonics with letters (children taught with Jolly Phonics were better at phonemic awareness than the children who had been taught with a phonemic awareness programme before learning to read).
  • think that teaching rhymes, in the beginning, helps children to read (young children are not able to use analogy until they have a reading age of 7+).

* Sight words are words that can only be memorised by the shape of the word because the letter sounds have not been taught yet.


Source: © Sue Lloyd




Jolly Centre - Segovia

Teacher Training Day

Saturday 17th May, 2014



I have worked in a Spanish/English school environment and have listened to Spanish children with strong accents, I´m sure this will change that.

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