A Synthetic Phonics course is the type of phonics course that starts with the sounds of English. These types of courses are called synthetic because the sounds and letters have to be put together by the student.
English-speaking students already know these sounds, because they learned them when they taught themselves to speak. Most students have forgotten this skill by the time they’re old enough to start school, but our brains store old, unused skills – so re-activating this skill is usually not difficult.
IT TEACHES SOUND/LETTER COMBINATIONS AND BLENDING
In Synthetic Phonics courses, as students are reminded of each sound, they are taught the most common letter that represents that sound. And as they become aware of these sound/letter combinations, they are taught to listen to words carefully and separate the sounds in each word. They are then taught to blend those separate sounds back into a word.
SYNTHETIC MEANS SYNTHESISING – PUTTING THINGS TOGETHER
This is what the synthetic means when we’re talking about phonics – blending the separate sounds into a word, because synthesising means putting things together.
This method of teaching reading is consistent with the way English was designed to be written and read. Originally, each English sound was written by just one sign or letter, and that’s how it still operates in most words today – in spite of what we’re constantly being told!
THOUSANDS OF WORDS USE ONE SOUND = ONE LETTER
Because that’s how thousands of words still work, that’s how everyone should be taught the basics of reading. Once students have really grasped this one sound = one letter principle, they know that when they want to read, all they have to do is look at the first letter and say the sound it represents, then do the same for each of the following letters. This method makes reading quick and easy to learn.
AFTER THAT, STUDENTS MOVE ON TO MORE COMPLEX WORDS
Once students have learned this basic level of reading well, they can progress to the more complex levels where they learn how to read words that rely upon the application of rule. Once they understand that, then they advance to the words that have words that are written a bit differently because they are from foreign languages.