The phonics lessons plans here were written for use in Japanese Kindergartens. They will work well in all EFL classes, although the country you are teaching in will determine which sounds are problematic and require extra attention.
The Phonics program that you use will generally be determined by the school or company that you work for. The lesson plans below fall into that category. If you are able to choose your own phonics program then I highly recommend Jolly Phonics
. The results in learning from using Jolly Phonics are outstanding with 2 year olds able to read and write within 3 months. Since I started using Jolly Phonics I did consider removing this page as the advice given not as good as it could be having seen and used a superior alternative. That said, I know that Japanese schools who are generally still very traditional continue use this system so it shall remain. Jolly Phonics >>>
Easy to teach and learn using the 42 sounds of the alphabet.
Phonics Lesson Plans - Teaching Notes
The following are some teaching points related to each of the monthly goals, including common areas of confusion for the students and areas to focus on.
Phonics Lesson Plans - General Notes
This phonics program is a continuous, 3-year course, with the ultimate goal that students begin the after post kindergarten program with a firm grasp of phonics and the ability to read and write simple phonically regular words. As the program is newly introduced this year, all the levels are starting from the basics, but they will inevitably move at different paces, as will classes within the same level.
The yearly targets have been split into a number of different unit goals (including a double-length section on 2-letter words), together with a timeline for the year. These timelines should be used as far as possible, however as class ability differs it is possible to or to take longer in some areas, however it is important not to dwell too long on any one unit to avoid losing students' motivation – there is a review week unit which draws on all previously learned phonics which over time should solidify some of the more challenging concepts.
Phonics Lesson Plans - Vowels - AEIOU
This is the most basic and perhaps the most important part of the program. Students who can confidently use these correctly will have a much easier time with both reading and writing, so it is vital for the teachers to ensure that the vowels are thoroughly taught.
The sounds that the vowels make are different in Japanese, so it's most important to get the students used to the different sounds – this isn't usually a problem, but the (a)pple and (u)mbrella sounds are very similar, so highlighting the difference and correcting errors early will really help in the long run. (i)gloo is commonly sounded as (ee) as this is how the 'i' phonic is usually sounded in Japanese, but early correction can ensure that the 'new' sound is easily remembered.
Phonics Lesson Plans - BCGDT
The most common difficulty is differentiating between the 'b' and 'd' written letters, so it's important to get the children used to this early. One good method is to draw a vertical line on the board, and then form either a 'b' or a 'd' by finishing the letter to the left or the right. This game is fun, and highlights the differences easily.
As with all the consonants, try to make sure that the consonants are voiced as short as possible –
i.e. make sure that it's 't' rather than 'to'(と) and 'g' rather than 'go'(ご)
Phonics Lesson Plans - MNPS
The main issues in this section are the differences between 'm' and 'n' and the similarity between p, g, d and b (which is why 'p' is introduced here rather than in previous units). If theses are adequately distinguished, by using the game above but using 'b', 'p', 'g' and 'd' for example, this will make life easier in the future – this is one of the most common confusions and, whilst it's not easy to correct completely given the time available, it will do a lot of good.
Phonics Lesson Plans - HKLQ
Highlighting the identical sounding phonics 'k' and 'c' is important here, as is making sure that the 'q' phonic is correctly pronounced – 'kwuh' rather than 'kuh'. The 'l' phoneme is not as difficult to pronounce as the 'r' phoneme, so it is covered first, and it is closestst to the 'default' for all l- and r-starting words iJapanesese (らくだ sounds more like lakuda than rakuda as the motion of the speaker's tongue when articulating the phoneme ら is formed – is more similar to the English 'l')
Phonics Lesson Plans - FJRW
J and W are relatively straightforward for students to remember, but the fact that 'f' is not articulated strongly in Japanese is the first main issue – ふ is articulated as a voiceless 'whistle' rather than the 'fuh' sound that is used in English. One method of demonstrating this difference would be to exaggerate the sound and the mouth formation using a drill – 'fuh fuh FUH' using different stress patterns to highlight the movement of the bottom lip when forming the sound.
As before, there is no need (or time!) to over-stress this issue on when introducing the phoneme, the cumulative review will show improvements gradually, but consistent correction is vital.
The 'r' phoneme is also very difficult – it has been split from the 'l' phoneme so that at this stage students can hopefully recognise the 'l' flashcard and produce the phonic sound (even if they are unable to produce it independently), and can now begin to recognise that there is a difference between the two sounds. As with 'f' it is not recommended to insist on precision at the introduction stage, but as part of the review in later units a 'l, r, l, r' drill that increases in speed can be fun and helps to reinforce the difference.
Phonics Lesson Plans - VXYZ
Teaching the 'v' phoneme is challenging in a similar way to 'r', in that there exists no parallel in Japanese. Most if not all children have difficulty in articulating the 'vuh' sound and will use 'buh' – as before some exaggerated demonstrating and an emphasis on fun will help, but review and reinforcement will gradually improve students' ability.
The 'x' phoneme can be challenging as the anchor word is 'box'. Students will often forget and say 'buh buh box' rather than the intended 'cs cs box'. The 'cs' sound is, however, fun to say, and most children enjoy the plosive quality of this phoneme!
2-letter Vowel-Consonant combinations
This is a challenging area for students, and one where the effectiveness and consistency of the phonic groundwork will be most evident. The main challenge is to show students that the phonic sounds change in combination, so that 'a' and 't' combine to become 'at' rather than 'a-to'(あっと).
If the phonics are taught as contracted as possible, it becomes much easier to combine. Initially, showing how the vowel sound changes can really help, for example:
a t a k a p
e t e k e p
i t i k i p
o t o k o p
u t u k u p
Check our Phonics Games pages for tried and tested games and activities.