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What’s the difference between learning the alphabet and learning phonics?
Research

What’s the difference between learning the alphabet and learning phonics?

The alphabet teaches children the names of letters but not their sounds (phonemes). Often, the name of the letter is not the same as its most common sound (phoneme). For example, the name of the letter a does not sound like the short /a/ phoneme in 'cat' and the name of the letter o does not sound like the short /o/ phoneme in 'dog'.

Learning the alphabet as well as the difference between upper and lower case letters is important. For most children, learning the alphabet is a fun experience, especially when letters are introduced in a relaxed and playful way. But learning the alphabet alone is not enough to be able to read. For this, children need phonics instruction.

Why learning the alphabet is not enough to learn how to read:
The name of the letter a is different to the sound that a makes in words like cathat, and bath.
The name of the letter o is different to the sound that o makes in words like dostop, and mop.

Deep Dive

Read our report on the Science of Reading. Research-based reading instruction must incorporate the 5 pillars of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. This report provides an easy to understand overview of each of these pillars and explains the important connection between how the brain learns to read (the Neuroscience of Reading) and how we teach children to read (The Science of Reading Instruction). It also explains why helping children build connections between letters and sounds, through phonics and phonemic awareness, is so crucial for the developing reading mind. This report is perfect for sharing with colleagues and friends!