CAPS Recommendations or Requirements

The five components of teaching reading, Page 14

"Most reading experts agree that there are five main components to the teaching of reading:
• Phonemic awareness
• Word recognition (sight words and phonics)
• Comprehension
• Vocabulary
• Fluency

Each of these components needs to be taught explicitly and practised on a daily basis"

Phonemic awareness, Page 14

"Phonemic awareness is recognising that speech consists of a sequence of sounds and being able to recognise these individual sounds, how they make words and how these words can make sentences. Developing this awareness should begin early in Grade 1."


Phonics, Page 15

"Phonics refers to the sounds in words and the symbols (letters of the alphabet) used to represent them. It is an important tool in both reading and writing.
There are a range of phonic programmes available. Schools may select the programme that will support explicit and systematic teaching of phonics through the school. Schools should remain loyal to their chosen programme."
(Emphasis added)

The suggested sequence of introducing the phonic elements in the CAPS document is a guide. Where phonic programmes have different sequences, follow these instead. However, the pacing of introducing the phonic elements should be similar to the pacing in the CAPS document.

"Phonics and handwriting should be linked as the teaching of the letter sound and how to write it go together. Teach the more frequently used sounds first in Grade 1. Also bear in mind letter formation so that, for example, one might choose to teach the letter c before a and the letter l before h and b. The CAPS document paces the introduction of phonics so that 1-2 new sounds are introduced each week during the first two terms so that at least eight sounds are taught by the end of the first term and the remainder by the end of the second term. Some consonant and vowel combinations can be introduced in the second half of Grade 1. At the same time continue practice in building and breaking down words."







Teaching-Engine Applicable Features

The Teaching-Engine deals with all of these needs very well because the program was designed from the offset to teach and improve reading, reading comprehension, spelling and fluent reading.

A student can use the program on his own without direct adult intervention regardless of reading level. This is very important in a school computer lab because it is impossible for one computer lab teacher to give individual attention to 30 or more students.

See the following sections for more details.

Phonemic Awareness

The student is made well aware that the sounds of words can be broken up (analysed) and put back together (synthesized) repeatedly in over 66 phonics lessons.

Also, in hundreds of spelling lessons the word is visually pulled apart, the components sounded, squeezed back together again and then the word itself sounded.


Because natural sound is a fundamental part of the programme, it is an ideal feature to use when dealing with phonics. Phonic exercises typically display the letter or groups of letters being taught as phonics, and the phonic sounds are clearly heard by the students. When taught as part of a word, the letters or group of letters are visually pulled apart, showing the separated phonic components of the word, the phonic components highlighted and sounded and then the text components are "squeezed" back together again, reconstructing the word, and then the word is sounded. This "pulling apart" display is also used in spelling exercises to help the student remember the spelling better.

The grade and step order of the phonics lessons has been taken from the South African Department of Education website, Thutong portal, files dated September 2010. The documents are named: Foundations for Learning, Foundation Phase Literacy Lessons Plans. There are 12 documents, 4 terms in 3 grades. Guidance was taken from these documents for the phonics content and order.

In the Teaching-Engine, the lessons are sorted according to grade, term and then steps within a term. However, the computer lab teacher may assign lessons to the students in any order.

As of this writing, there are 53 specific phonic lessons for grade 1 and 13 phonic lessons in grade 2. There are over 230 spelling lessons in Grades 1-3 which display the breaking up of a word into components.

Click to see a movie of a phonics reading lesson
Click to see a movie of phonics in spelling

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