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Reading Terminology

Please note it is not necessary to be familiar with any of the reading terms below for you to be able to teach your child to read. Knowing the definition of these words and phrases may be of assistance to help in further research.

Authentic Phonics – The traditional method of sounding out each letter in a word.

Phonics – The sounding out of the sound each letter makes.

Synthetic Phonics - The blending of letters such as SH to make the sound shhhh. The teaching of letter grouping sounds along side traditional phonics.

Keywords – 300 keywords make up approximately three quarters of what we say in the English language.

Reading Schemes – A group of books, usually in a story format, designed to facilitate reading by gradually building on word introduction.

Look and Say – Recognising words in their entirety instead of breaking them up phonetically.

High frequency words – Words not easily decoded and are learnt by sight usually within a look and say approach.

Phoneme - A small unit of sound relating to the phonic approach to reading. The smallest unit of sound that a child learns and sounds out within a word. There are 44 phonemes.

Sight words – High frequency words.

Trigraph – A group of letters relating to one phoneme or sound. This relates to synthetic phonics.

Digraph – Letters that come together to make a phoneme. For example the word boat has a middle sound of oa (oh) This is the middle phoneme in boat.

Blending – Bringing sounds together to make words or syllables. The word Dog is a blending of the phonic sounds D O G.

Sounding Out – Making the sounds of individual letters or letter groups such as phonemes to blend phonetically and sound out a word.

Vowel Phonemes – A small unit of sound relating to the phonic sounding of vowel sounds.

Consonant Phonemes – A small unit of sound relating to the phonic sounding of consonant sounds.

Grapheme - A grapheme is visual representation of a phoneme. There are a 150 graphemes.

Vowels - A E I O U are the vowel sounds in the English Language. The letter Y can also act as a vowel sound.

Consonants – These are the remaining letters of the alphabet once the vowels are removed.

Homophones – Words which sound the same but are spelt differently. For example two, too and to.

Capital Letters - Each letter has an upper and lower case version. For example A and a. The letter A in this form is known as a capital letter. It is also known by the term upper case. Capital letters are used at the beginning of sentences and for proper nouns. Young children should refer to upper case letters as “big” letters for the sake of clarity

Lower Case Letters – These are letters that are not capitalised. Young children should refer to lower case letters as “small“ letters for the sake of clariy.


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