Phonics Glossary

Phonics can be a tricky topic for parents and guardians. Chances are either you didn't learn to read using phonics when you were in school or you did but this was so long ago that you don't remember it at all. This means learning the different terms within phonics and how to teach your children to read using phonics can make you feel like you are teaching yourself a whole new skill as well. 


We have gathered together a few of the most common phonics terms to make understanding phonics as easy as possible. 

Phonics Glossary

Blending: Bringing graphemes together to make a word. 


CVC: Consonant-vowel-consonant sound words e.g. cat. There are also other abbreviations such as CVCC e.g. fact. However, it is the vowel and consonant sounds that are important here and a digraph or trigraph can make up one sound, for example, the word splash would be a CCCVC word as the diagraph "sh" make up one consonant sound. 


Decoding: Reading words through blending and phonics techniques. 


Digraph: A grapheme that contains two letters to make one sound (phoneme) e.g. ph.


GPC: Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence which is matching a phoneme (a sound) to a grapheme (a written phoneme).


Grapheme: A written phoneme. Made up of either one letter e.g. p or multiple letters e.g. sh, tch, ough.


Phoneme: Unit of sound, there are approximately 44 in English (though this can be different depending on your accent). Individual phonemes can be put together to form a word.


Segmenting: Splitting a word into the phonemes or graphemes that make it. Putting them in the right order is the process of spelling. 


Sight words: These are words that we come across over and over again as we read. They are words that children will learn to memorise quickly as they will often not only find them in every book they read, but also on nearly every page. Examples of sight words are I, do, said, the etc. 


Synthesising: The phonics method which involves blending graphemes to read a word. 


Trigraph: A grapheme that contains three letters to make one sound (phoneme).


Get to grips with phonics and you will be teaching your little ones to read in no time. But, knowing your phoneme from your grapheme is just the beginning. Now you know what is what you can start building up your understanding of how to teach phonics in your home and support their school progress. For more phonics advice and resources, take a look at our introduction to phonics from Read with Phonics founder Sophie Cooper and check out her advice for parents/guardians and teachers as they begin teaching phonics at home or in the classroom as well.