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Joyce Chen

Joyce Chen

Hey there! My name is Joyce, and I’m a Taiwanese American student studying Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Taiwan University. In Taiwan, I work as an English tutor to 2 adorable preschoolers. When I’m not studying or working, I love to travel throughout Asia! Throughout the incredible journey life has taken me on, I never fail to take a step back and thank God for the opportunities I have been given and to reflect on my faith. I hope you enjoy this little piece of my life, and thanks for visiting!

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Tips for Teaching Phonics

Whether you’re a tutor or a parent, teaching phonics to children can be a difficult task. For adults, it’s hard to remember a time when you didn’t know how to read, and many may not have even learned how to read through phonics. Different teaching systems will have their own way of approaching the subject, but there are a couple general tips that will make the process significantly easier for both the teacher and the child.


Repetition and consistency is absolutely key for a child when they are first learning phonics. Work on a small set of letters at a time, and remember to go back and review previous letters as well. To provide some structure in this process, use the rule of three’s (anything important should be done in three’s to optimize retention). Say the letter three times, then make the sound three times.
Example: A A A, a a a. B B B, b b b. C C C c c c.
This structure will make it easier to recall the sounds when they’re moving on to full words. Just as you could start with the letter and ask for them to respond with the sound, quiz them the other way around by giving the sound and asking for the letter.


Once the child has a grasp of what sounds correspond to what letters, they need to learn how to identify those sounds in a word. Ask them questions like: Do you hear the a sound in apple? Do you hear the a sound in berry? This will begin to train them to think more about the role of sounds in the words they already know. It’ll also be easier for them to learn how to spell later on. 


Once they’ve learned the basic A-Z, they’ll probably move on to consonant and vowel combinations, like S H, sh. When you get to this stage, remember to continue with the same type of structure above with slight modifications.
Example: S and H, go sh sh sh. E and A, go E E E.
When you do the recall, just flip it around.
Example: What goes E E E? E and A.


If you want to find additional materials, Oxford Phonics World has a great, structured program with workbooks and interactive apps that work together. There are many other apps available, so test out different ones until you find one that your child likes and will want to proactively play. 


Once the child has reached a certain level of mastery, there are plenty of fun games that will help her retain and practice what she’s learned.
Hungry Monster: This one might require a bit more DIY, but it can be a great craft to do with the child in preparation! Make a “hungry monster” out of a cereal box with an opening for the mouth, then write down letters, sounds, or sight words on index cards. Lay all the cards out, and tell the child, “The monster is hungry for the b sound.” The child will then have to search for the corresponding card to feed the monster.
Matching: A classic that can easily be updated. Create pairs for each letter, sound, or sight word and have the child read out what’s on the card after flipping it over. They can only take the match if they’ve read it correctly.
Teacher: You might have a child who loves to play pretend, so have them be the teacher and teach you everything they’ve learned! Ask siblings to come be part of the class, and most children will rise to the occasion and happily show off their knowledge.

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