Phonics is a reading strategy that is concerned with the connection between written letters and the spoken sounds that those letters represent. A child’s ability to use phonics is closely related to their phonemic awareness or understanding that spoken words can be broken into individual sounds
Jean S. Chall did a comprehensive survey of reading research in the 1960’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. In her book, Learning to Read: The Great Debate she concluded that comprehensive and systematic phonics instruction for beginning readers is supported by a majority of reading research.
“The research…indicates that a code-emphasis method – i.e., one that views beginning reading as essentially different from mature reading and emphasizes learning of the printed code for the spoken language – produces better results.”
Chall, Jean S., Learning to Read: The Great Debate, 1996 Pg. 307
Marilyn J. Adams surveyed the reading research in the late 1980’s. Her conclusion was the same as that of Jean Chall.
“In summary, deep and thorough knowledge of letters, spelling patterns, and words, and of the phonological translations of all three, are of inescapable importance to both skillful reading and its acquisition. By extension, instruction designed to develop children’s sensitivity to spellings and their relations to pronunciations should be paramount importance in the development of reading skills. This is, of course, precisely what is intended of good phonics instruction.”
Adams, Marilyn J., Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print, 1990 Pg. 416.