Importance of Phonetics and Phonology

Phonetics and phonology are extremely crucial to understand in order to decipher the English language. According to Moats*, phonetics is the study of the physical production and perception of speech sounds that occur in each language and in all languages.

Without an understanding of phonetics, one cannot effectively read and spell. It is required to understand how speech sounds are formed by paying attention to the shape and feel of the mouth when speaking or reading, and have the knowledge to remember, separate, combine, and manipulate phonemes, and to do so rapidly and without effort (Moats, 2020). Once there is a sense of how phonetics works, then one can form a file system of rules for how to create words using the speech sounds.

Phonology is the study of the speech sound system of any language, including the rules and patterns by which phonemes are combined into words and phrases (Moats, 2020). An understanding of these rules and patterns helps to build a vocabulary framework in the brain and learn how to pair sound patterns that are similar together. When learning to read, a person recalls learned patterns about the speech sounds and applies that knowledge to learn new vocabulary. All facets of language learning revolve around the basis of phonetics and phonology. 

* Source: Moats, L. C. (2020). Speech to print: Language essentials for teachers (3rd ed.). Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company.

Meet the Author: Katie Worthington, B.A.

Katie is a certified early childhood and elementary teacher from Baltimore County. She is trained in research-based literacy practices such as Orton-Gillingham and Phonographix. Over the past ten years she has worked in public and private school settings specializing in working with students with language-based-learning differences.

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