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  A note from Philip, editor of the Fitzroy Readers materials


There is ongoing debate amongst teachers about the best way to teach children how to read. There’s the major divide between phonics and whole-word. And then there are varying practices within the phonic approach as to how best to SOUND OUT a word.  For example:            

do we say       sh! o! p!    says     shop       where sh!  is  SHORT and VOICED   or

do we say       shhh o! p!    where shhh  is  CONTINUED & UNVOICED?

We at Fitzroy Readers are very familiar with this discussion about methods of sounding out.  We do not take a hard line, but include alternative approaches, used by different teachers.  Some teachers use PHONETIC sounds for children who are learning to speak English, and TRADITIONAL for children who can already PRONOUNCE the words they are learning to READ.

When we supply our FITZROY SOUNDS package, which teaches beginners the basic sounds of the letters, we include TWO AUDIOS within the package: one using the SHORT and VOICED style and the other using CONTINUED and UNVOICED sounds where possible.  We let teachers choose according to their preference, or according to their students’ needs.

The science of PHONETICS carefully isolates the sounds of each word.  The f  sound is, on its own, CONTINUOUS and UNVOICED: fff.  When teaching children who do not speak English at home, it helps to follow phonetics and slowly sound out the word fish as    fff i shhh.  This requires their close attention. Beware, fff sounds very much the same as thhh.  The children need to see the teacher’s face.

With native English speakers, who already know how to say fish, some teachers find it easier to say f! i sh!  – very audible in a classroom.  These children, who already speak the word fish, will never mispronounce fish.  While phonetics is the precise SCIENCE of speech sounds, phonics is the practical ART of teaching children how to convert the written word most efficiently to the spoken word.  

P.S.  When we supply our FITZROY READERS SOFTWARE, we include (in Teacher Settings) FOUR options for the program to sound out words!  They are called TRADITIONAL, CONVENTIONAL, STRICTLY PHONETIC and THE FITZROY METHOD (the default setting).

The Fitzroy Method uses both phonetic and traditional approaches for most efficient sounding out.  The children at Fitzroy Community School use both, most of them not noticing they have two ways of sounding some letters.  Especially when sounding out blends.  In the word stand, for example, we have two blends.  We say   sss t! a! nnn d! But where the s if immediately followed by a vowel, as in set, we say    s! e! t! .


If you would like to see the SOUNDING OUT of a Fitzroy Reader as practiced by Fitzroy Community School, please CLICK HERE.