The term 'phonics' is often used interchangeably with the term 'phonetics' - but each term is different.
Phonics is used to describe a method of reading instruction for school children and is sometimes considered a simplified form of phonetics. Yet phonetics is actually the scientific study of speech sounds.
Phonics vs phonetics
Phonics: The branch of linguistics concerned with spoken sounds; phonetics. The correlations between sound and symbol in an alphabetic writing system; the phonic method of teaching reading.
Phonetics: The study and classification of speech sounds, with regard to the physical aspects of their production; the branch of linguistics that deals with this.
Why do we need to know phonetics?
Phonetics involves the use of special language symbols to explain how certain letters and letter groups or dipthongs are pronounced.
For example, the word cheese has a double ?ee? sound in the middle that can be expressed phonetically like this: /i:/.
In a dictionaries, a published word often has a phonetic spelling next to the word to explain how to say the word correctly. In English dictionaries, phonetic transcriptions are necessary, because the spelling of an English word does not tell you how you should pronounce it.
You can view phonetic symbols and their meanings in several online destinations, including:
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- What is phonetics
- What is phonics
- What is phonemics
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This article was written by Alex Brooks for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading educational resource for parents.