Talk:Synthetic phonics

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Expansion outside UK[edit]

This page includes a good summary of Synthetic Phonics instruction, but as this type of phonics instruction can be applied beyond a UK context, wouldn't it be better to have a more balanced pronunciation chart including American and Australian English as well? Maybe something based on the IPA chart for English? Alternatively the article could be divided into several sections, focussing on Synthetic Phonics instruction in the UK, US, Australia, etc...Yodaki2 (talk) 06:48, 20 July 2008 (UTC)


One example of how this seems to be written for experts rather than the general reader: What does "fluency" mean in this context? The article says that synthetic phonics emphasises accuracy over fluency. moink (talk) 11:54, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

In Practice[edit]

This article doesn't give much of a sense of what actually happens in the classroom when children are taught to read using synthetic phonics. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:00, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

In the following years the average reading age of children in primary schools fell This sentence is misleading until you realize that Reading Age is not the age at which children learn to read, but a measure for their reading skills. I wonder how there can be an overall "average reading age" -- shouldn't it be "reading age in relation to chronological age"?-- (talk) 06:48, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

Time to remove cleanup tags[edit]

It is time to remove the tags from Synthetic Phonics. I have added the required references, and cleaned-up the Links, added more scientific evidence, added cross-references, and added more countries to give it a Global perspective. What do you think? This comment is attributed to: jnhmunro (talk) by — John Harvey, Wizened Web Wizard Wannabe, Talk to me! 13:26, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

Lack of clarity[edit]

It seems to me that there is a lack of distinction between "systematic Phonics" and the subject of the article - "synthetic phonics". I came to learn about the latter but am now confused.--Bob Mudford (talk) 18:55, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for the feedback[edit]

I have attempted to be clearer about the different terms. Please let me know if it is still not clear. jnhmunro(talk) 08:59 UTC 25 September 2011 —Preceding undated comment added 04:09, 25 September 2011 (UTC).

I think that it maybe assumes a bit too much knowledge on the part of the reader. the section on the UK begins:
  • Up until the 1970s a mixture of synthetic and analytic phonics was used for teaching reading in British schools
But while "Synthetic phonetics" was defined in the intro the reader is now confronted with the new undefined (and unlinked) "analytic phonics". More seriously the text then mentions "Systematic Phonics Instruction" and when that is defined it looks like something which is identical to "Synthetic phonetics". If the terms are interchangeable this should be made clear. If they are different then this difference should be explained. (The superficial visual similarity of the words "systematic" and "synthetic" is also unfortunate but hardly the fault of the article.)
      • ------
After writing the above I came upon the section: Systematic Phonics, Synthetic Phonics, and Analytical Phonics. This make an attempt to clarify the terms being used. However by the time the reader gets to this point they may well have already been confused - as I was. Might it be better to put the definitions section first?--Bob Mudford (talk) 19:00, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Thanks Bob, this is very helpful. I have moved the definitions section to the top as you have suggested. I have also added more meat to it so as to make it more clear. Now I see I have to fix the #7 section. Please keep your comments coming (I have a thick skin and am too close to the article to have a fresh perspective.) John User:jnhmunro 14:30 UTC 27 September 2011 —Preceding undated comment added 13:36, 27 September 2011 (UTC).

Tags removed[edit]

I have removed the warning tags because the article now has citations where they appear to be needed; it now comments on five English speaking countries; all of your comments have been addressed; and the external links have been clean up. I will look at including more information on the phonemes for countries beyond the U.K. jnhmunro (John), talk 6:08 01-10-2011 UTC —Preceding undated comment added 17:09, 1 October 2011 (UTC).

Promotionalism and other problems[edit]

I have added tags for WP:POV and WP:OR and excessively essay-like nature. The article is not written in a neutral encyclopedic style, and seems to be very much in violation of our rules about WP:POriginal research and WP:Synthesis. It is not acceptable for an article to come to a conclusion about what method of teaching is more effective than another. We just report what the sources say, in proportion to the reliable coverage. It's OK to say , "The Handbook of X considers that A is best " but not "A is best." It also must give a balanced presentation. A particular government report saying A is best is appropriate material, but it needs to be balanced with whatever sources there are that might come to a different conclusion, and with academic studies supporting or opposing the various viewpoints. A government report is not a government. The Government of Scotland is not the same as a particular report from them. It would be better to say "The position of the Dept. of whatever in Scotland in 20xx was that...." It might also be better to recast things to say "the current recommendation of ... as of ... is that .... "

Furthermore, there is a general problem of style, which is characteristic of articles promoting a particular point of view: the excessive use of quotations. Material should be written in one's own words, summarizing the sources, and using fairly chosen quotations to highlight the key points, or make key definitions. An encyclopedia article is not a string of quotations. Nor is it a string of definitions, and I see no evidence that is authoritative. (it's a US site, but it is not clear whether , definitions apply only to the Us, but they seem to be used as if they apply world-wide. As phomnics is not only about LD, I also wonder if its definitions can be generalized beyond its field. ) I do not see how it meets our definition of reliable sources. Similarly, the Canadian " society for quality education " would appear from its web page to be advocating a particular position, rather than being a neutral body. I do not consider it a RS for general conclusions. I have not examined all the other sources, but I have similar doubts about most of them.

The section headings are inappropriate: "Support in the U.S.A." is synthesis. "US position" would be neutral."More views on which Systematic Phonics approach achieves the best results" is synthesis, especially since the first study seems to say none of them achieve better results than the others. I'm also not clear about the title and the scope: we normally combine the discussion of an academic subject in different countries into one article. If on the other hand this is meant to be a discussion of practical educational policy, then the articles may be separate, but they need to clearly indicate the applicable country. Both approaches can be combined, but it's not clear in this article what is intended in the various sections. First the heading says it is not about the US, then there is a section about the US. And the section on "More views... " leads off with several US studies. Myself, I think it would be clearer to combine the articles, unless the name is used in the different countries for entirely separate things.

A sentence like "Systematic Phonics does not include methods such as embedded phonics and phonics mini lessons which are found in the Whole Language approach and the Balanced Literacy approach. For more comments on these methods that only discretely teach phonics see Diane McGuinness." is not encyclopedic. Essays are written that way. If the view is uncontroversial, it should not be taken from a writer trying to promote a particular approach., If the inclusion of various techniques is controversial, all views must be given.

There is also some circular cross references between this article and the various sections of Phonics. I'm not an expert in this. I'm making these commentsto show why the article as it stands is confusing to the non-experts, for whom Wikipedia is written DGG ( talk ) 03:56, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

Thank you[edit]

Thank you DGG. Your critique is very useful. I will see what I can do to improve this article. And I look forward to hearing any further suggestions you might have. Perhaps Phonics and Synthetic Phonics should be combined, however I feel it would be better to clean-up Synthetic Phonics before we look at combining the two. Thanks again. John (talk) 21:04, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

I have made several changes, such as: 1) Added different points of view. 2) Clarified the sources. 3) Reduced the number and length of quotations. 4) Added more neutral citations; and, more online citations that the readers can read for themselves and reach their own conclusions. 5) Changed the headings as suggested. 6) Removed some unnecessary material. 7) Corrected some material. 8) Added some new material and changed the format to make it more readable by the non-expert. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:48, 3 February 2012 (UTC)

this article requires peer reviewed secondary research[edit]

There is no mention of the neurology of how children and adult develop and learn, and how this and other programs may meet the various type of learning needs children may have depending on their neurological make up, skill and ability strengths, weaknesses and disabilities. All of which have been ignored in the article which serves as an advert for a specific teaching program. This article is about synthetic phonics a teaching program, not about the politics of various countries, and which lobby groups currently carry favour. So there is a need for less political bias, and those who promote synthetic phonics, and more scientic research, medical evidence, as to how we learn to read, and how synthetic phonics can help some learn to read , and not help others at all. A balanced view

You might find some useful research sources in the CiteULike Group Reading: Acquiring and Developing the skills and Abilties there is also a PubMed Reading collection listed on my user page dolfrog (talk) 15:40, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Paragraph removed due to lack of citations[edit]

I have removed this paragraph from the 'Phonics in the United Kingdom' section as the first few sentences don't have citations.

Up until the 1970s a mixture of synthetic and analytic phonics was used for teaching reading in British schools. From that time forward phonics was abandoned in some state primary schools to be replaced by the "whole word recognition" method sometimes called "look and say". In the following years the average reading age (i.e. the level of reading ability) of children in primary schools fell and the standard expectation for children of various ages was adjusted downward. Although there were a few proponents of phonic methods the major lobbying bodies such as the Institute of Education disdained early attention to the alphabetic code in favor of taking clues from the context of the text (such as illustrations).[1] (Pg. 11)

I believe this is in violation of Wikipedia:NOCITE. Blacktarantula (talk) 20:29, 2 May 2013 (UTC)


It has been a year and a half since the oldest warnings appeared on this page. Since that time the page has been rewritten and significantly edited by at least three new people. Any yet the flags remain. This seems like neglect or an abuse of power. There are many pages on Wiki that have far fewer citations yet no flags. Just saying. I will try to find time to address the call for more research citations. Any yet other similar articles are not held to such rigid demands. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jnhmunro (talkcontribs) 19:30, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

IPA and tone[edit]

The article in general still seems to read something like an advert for synthetic phonics: it seems like someone has copy pasted 'A Guide to Synthetic phonics' (and not a totally neutral guide, though I recognise that it's not far off, and suspect that this is to do with the wiki magic of past edits over time) or somesuch. Some of the bits that most jumped out at me were the layout: 'What it is' and 'What it is not' seem to read more like a myth-busting leaflet than an encyclopedia; it seems to me that the 'Common terminology' is again not the kind of section that Wikipedia encourages; and I thought that when discussing phonemes it was Wikipedia standard to use IPA rather than approximations.

I've not been able to find any guidelines to support me on these matters, so although I am happy to try and make the edits that I have suggested, I do not wish to do so until I've got a second opinion agreeing with me on these matters.

Thedisillusionedyouth (talk) 18:29, 27 January 2014 (UTC)

Yep, I agree with you entirely. We don't usually have section headings like "what it is" and "what it isn't", although I'm not sure we have a guideline about that specifically. The closest I could find was MOS:HEAD, which gives examples of how we usually do things. Also relevant is MOS:PARAGRAPHS: "Sections usually consist of paragraphs of running prose." We could do with more prose and less bullet points. Also, it is missing references - there are some sections that don't have any at all. I would imagine that once you fix the prose problem and the reference problem it won't be too hard to make it neutral. All in all I would say this is a case of WP:SOFIXIT - you should definitely go ahead and make the changes you outline. Best — Mr. Stradivarius ♪ talk ♪ 03:43, 28 January 2014 (UTC)
I agree, I'll try and help. There are also plenty of well known critiques which could be incorporated where appropriate. Sjgknight (talk) 15:58, 28 January 2014 (UTC)
Yes, absolutely. One urgent issue to address, repair, is the meaning of strings like "/a/" that appear in the article. Conventionally this means the vowel I have in "clock" and others may have in "car," perhaps both having it in "father" or the first syllable of "pasta." However, the article apparently is trying to use this string to represent /æ/ or <a>. It is not so clear which is meant. (I was trained to put orthographic notation in braces [squiggly brackets] but note that Wikipedia uses chevrons [angle brackets] for this purpose.) For my teaching needs, this problem makes the article nearly unusable.
The headings "What it is" and "What it is not" might be changed to "As applied to primary education" and "Contrast with other approaches."- phi (talk) 09:39, 30 January 2014 (UTC)
I took a crack at merging the two sections into a single one. If anyone objects, feel free to undo or work it over some more. —Torchiest talkedits 14:47, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

Sesame Street[edit]

So this is exactly how I learnt to read, well, I may add; by watching loads of Sesame Street as a child. Thanks! (talk) 01:10, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

"UK" Department of Education.[edit]

The so-called "UK Department of Education" is only responsible for education in England. [2] Scotland, Wales and N.I. have their own education departments. (talk) 14:38, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ Courtney J; Gravelle M. "Switching Sides: The battle between globalised pedagogy and national identity in the development of an Early Literacy Programme in Cambodia." (PDF). 
  2. ^