chapter  8
10 Pages

Three Definitions of Phonics

The centerpiece of neophonics, its alleged scientific raison d’être, is the alphabetic principle. Though described as a principle that connects letters of the alphabet with sounds of the spoken language, the alphabetic principle actually underlies three distinct ways of defining and understanding phonics: (a) as an abstract system of rules that converts letters to sounds, which may or may not be known (epistemology); (b) as a system of rules that must be learned in order to become known (psychology); and (c) as a system of rules that must be taught in order to become learned (pedagogy). Despite being interrelated, these are conceptually and empirically distinct notions.