Phonology is the skill that allows you to take a set of
letters (such as "c", "a", and "t")
and translate them into sounds that form real words (e.g. "cat").
This approach dominates reading instruction as children
are asked to "sound out" words they don't know.
Unfortunately, sounding out just doesn't work in real
life. Aside from a tiny percentage of words, you simply
cannot sound out the letters and come up with the right
For example, while the word "rat" might seem
easy enough to sound out, what happens when you add an "e" to
the end and make it "rate"? The sound of the "a" changes
The "solution" other reading systems provide
to get around this obstacle is to have children learn "rules" about
the way letters work. But the problem with the"rules" is
that they typically don't work a lot of the time. For instance,
you probably remember the "silent e" rule, which
states that an "e" at the end of a word such
as "fine" or "bite" has no sound but
it makes the first vowel in the word "long." But
what about "give", "done", "love" or
any of the other words that all end in "e" but
do not follow the "silent e" rule?
Unbelievably, by third grade, children have been asked
to memorize almost 600 of these "rules" which
Fortunately, there are easier and more effective methods
for converting letters into sounds without requiring children
to learn complicated and error-prone rules. All the Phonics
Plus Five™ reading/writing programs offer carefully
designed techniques that lead to rapid sound and word identification
with no need for the memorization of rules.