An Independent Expert Review of the Kiz Phonics Programme

Read what other experts are saying about the Kiz Phonics Programme

Review of the Kiz Phonics Programme by Mark Lewis BA, HDip TEFL (Former Foreign Team Facilitator for Doctor Phonics’ English Academy Japan & Director of Studies for English First & International House)

In order to appreciate the importance of phonics in English language education it is necessary to fully understand what phonics actually is. Many people often confuse phonics with phonetics so first of all we need to clearly define these terms. Phonetics is the study of speech sounds in a language and is focused purely on pronunciation. Phonics is a method of learning to read English by developing an awareness of the variety of sounds that letters represent in different positions and combinations. Therefore, although phonics deals with the sounds of English, it is primarily focused on literacy.

The two main methods of learning to read English are by means of word recognition and phonics. The more traditional method of learning via word recognition tries to develop literacy by getting learners to recognise whole words and their sounds. There are two problems with this method. Firstly, it only promotes an ability to read words that have already been presented to learners and I have often come across cases where very advanced level students have been unable to even attempt to read a new word aloud simply because they have never encountered it before and have no real concept of the way that English letters in different combinations actually sound. Secondly, word recognition is extremely problematic when dealing with learners who have reading difficulties such as dyslexia.

In contrast, phonics allows learners to build and apply an understanding of the patterns of sounds that letters represent, enabling them to develop the ability to read new words for themselves. It is rather like the old proverb that states if you give a man a fish, you can feed him for a day but if you teach him how to fish, he can feed himself for life. The phonics method has been widely used to develop literacy amongst native speakers as well as learners of English and in my experience is particularly useful for learners whose native language does not use the Roman alphabet.

In terms of courses for learners of English as a second or foreign language, elements of phonics have been incorporated into many children’s text books, in particular David Paul’s young learners’ courses. Full programmes such as the Matsuka Phonics Institute series in Japan have also been developed. However, these programmes have generally been quite limited, generally only providing basic introductions , skeleton courses with large omissions or simply not going far enough in terms of producing a comprehensive phonics literacy programme.

The Kiz Phonics programme seems to have remedied this situation by providing an intensive, structured and comprehensive programme, covering the full scope of phonics education that is accessible to young and very young learners with a wide range of engaging practice activities for learning reinforcement.
I am personally very pleased to finally see a course like this and feel that it will not only be very useful to individual learners studying online but also for schools and language training centres around the world.