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Analytical phonics refers to an approach to the teaching of reading in which the phonemes associated with particular graphemes are not pronounced in isolation. Children identify (analyse) the common phoneme in a set of words in which each word contains the phoneme under study. For example, teacher and pupils discuss how the following words are alike: pat, park, push and pen. Analytic phonics for writing similarly relies on inferential learning: realising that the initial phoneme in /p i g/ is the same as that in /p æ t, p a: k, p u ƒ/ and /p e n/, children deduce that they must write that phoneme with grapheme. Today, Analytical phonics is referred to as Implicit phonics. This is because it signifies the analysis (breaking down) of the whole word to its parts (an analysis only necessary when a child cannot read it as a whole word).
Practice and approach
Implicit phonics is moving from the whole to the smallest parts; "blending-and-building" is not usually taught. A student will identify new words by its shape, beginning and ending letters, any context clues from the rest of the sentence or any accompanying pictures.
Shortcomings of this approach
A major problem with analytical phonic methods is the erroneous assumption that all students will already have the fairly sophisticated phonemic awareness skills needed to enable the comparison of sounds within the various words. Implicit instruction relies on readers "discovering" clues about sound-spelling relationships; good readers can do this, but poor readers are not likely to do so.
Controversy: analytical vs. synthetic approaches
Phonics has become an acceptable practice and approach to teaching children to read. However, there are different methods in which it is used, and disagreement over which approach is best.
There are two primary approaches to teaching phonics: analytical phonics and synthetic phonics. Both approaches require the learner to have some phonological awareness (the ability to hear and discriminate sounds in spoken words). Both approaches can also contribute to furthering children's phonological development. Phonological awareness is an essential skill for reading, writing, listening and talking.
Synthetic phonics involves the development of phonemic awareness from the outset. As part of the decoding process, the reader learns up to 44 phonemes (the smallest units of sound) and their related graphemes (the written symbols for the phoneme).
In contrast, analytical phonics, also known as the "whole word" approach, involves analysis of whole words to detect phonetic or orthographic (spelling) patterns, then splitting them into smaller parts to help with decoding.