Pronunciation and phonetics with other language terms

Pronunciation and phonetics, although they associated with language learning, are quite distinct language terms. Keeping pronunciation and phonetics clear is important. As you begin to learn a new language, speaking is just as necessary as learning the grammar.

In teaching the basics of reading and writing, it is necessary to learn some essential language terms. Reading is a fundamental communication skill.

However, syllables and letters introduce pronunciation, phonetics, phonics, phoneme, and phonemic awareness to language learners.

All these factors influence a reader to learn about pronunciation and phonetics. More importantly, phoneme and phonics are essential for the beginning reader to identify words.

Like any good story, reading comprehension is necessary. Indeed, the translation and interpretation loose value for beginning readers, without learning phonics or phonemic awareness.

In this post, you’ll learn the differences between these important language terms.

What is pronunciation?

The definition of pronunciation is: “the way in which a word is pronounced” or “the way a word or a language is spoken.” Pronunciation varies by where the speaker lives, how the learner acquires the language, the speaker’s ethnicity, and other factors.

Ultimately, these external factors influence how we obtain pronunciation. Whether the speaker lives in Spain or Mexico, the learner gathers pronunciation by just residing in the language.

It is important to note, “spelling does not determine pronunciation”. Print awareness and phonics are fundamental components of spelling.

What is phonetics?

Phonetics is the study of how “syllables are counted as units of sound or phones that they use in their language,” “the study and classification of speech sounds,” or “is a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech.”

Phonetics is an important part of learning a language. Without phonetics, language learners wouldn’t be able to read and speak.

The way syllables and phonemes combine the way readers learn to sound out letters and words. As the user advances in language learning, he or she learns to pronounce and phonetically use specific words and phrases.

pronunciation and phonetics

What is phoneme?

A phoneme is “any of the perceptually distinct units of sound in a specified language that distinguishes one word from another.” Phoneme plays the role of differentiating words.

More importantly, the beginning reader recognizes particular sounds. The user becomes vocal as he or she begins to read out loud.

“Phonemes are the basic vocal gestures of a language, recycled to form all our spoken words.”

Pronunciation is an external trait, which implements phoneme into phonics. Phonetics is an intrinsic quality.

What is phonemic awareness?

Phonemic awareness “is the understanding that spoken words are made up of individual sounds, which are called phonemes.” Phonemes are the building blocks of phonemic awareness.

Without phonemes, the reader has difficulty being aware of how certain vowels and consonants work together. Phonemic awareness “is a subset of phonological awareness in which listeners can hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes, that smallest unit of sound that can differentiate meaning.”

As phoneme is important to phonemic awareness, phonetics is critical to language learning. Reading comes when a learner begins to incorporate sounds and print into phonics.

What is phonics?

Phonics is “a method of teaching people to read by correlating sounds with letters or groups of letters in an alphabetic writing system.” As the learner begins to acquire language skills, the speaker now becomes a reader.

Phonics “is simply the system of relationships between letters and sounds in a language.” It is the first step a reader takes in learning the language.

By combining phonetics, phoneme, and phonics, the beginning reader has learned to recognize how letters and sounds go together. Phonics help with spelling, too.

Whether it is Spanish or another language, learning pronunciation is not phonetics or phonic. A learner needs to know how phonemes work to know how phonics works.

How do you learn to pronounce and sound out new words?

Barbara Mascareno

Barbara is an educational writer, teacher, and instructional designer. She loves to write K-12 education content, teaching strategies, bilingual education approaches, and foreign language.

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