Explicit & Implicit Phonics Approaches to Literacy

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  • 00:00 Phonics
  • 00:53 Explicit Instruction
  • 2:08 Implicit Instruction
  • 3:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Phonics are a fundamental part of learning to read well. But how should they be taught? In this lesson, we'll examine both explicit and implicit approaches to phonics instruction, including the pros and cons of each and example activities.


Lyle is an elementary school teacher. He wants to make sure that all of his students understand language and are able to read successfully, but he's not sure how to do that. He knows that they need to understand that certain patterns appear in language, but how can he teach those patterns? Phonics is the system of relationships between written and spoken language. For example, knowing that 'ph' makes the 'f' sound in English is part of phonics. Phonics is an important part of reading. If Lyle wants his students to be able to read the word 'phonics,' they have to know that the 'ph' at the beginning of the word sounds like an 'f.' But teachers don't always agree on how to teach phonics. To help Lyle plan his instruction, let's look at two different types of phonics instruction: explicit and implicit.

Explicit Instruction

Okay. Lyle gets what phonics is (the understanding of written letters and syllables and how they relate to the sounds of words), but how should he teach it? The teacher across the hall from Lyle believes in explicit phonics instruction, which involves teaching children phonics by clearly explaining the skills they are learning.

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