When I studied in Hong Kong, I never studied English through phonics. We never had a problem with reading or writing, so to be honest I wasn't sure whether it really is necessary. In my opinion phonics actually confused me and Abby more as I couldn't explain why in different cases 'y' is pronounced differently, or when we should use 'c' but not 'k'.
However, since we live in the UK, Abby will be learning through phonics at school no matter what I think, and she has shown signs of interest in how to read, so we decided to start her a bit earlier. Although I don't like Abby spending ages on my computer or phone, it is one of the apps I will let her play on when she is allowed as a treat. (Yes, I make her learn through treats, mwuahaha) We have been going through iPhone and Android app stores, but we could not find any phonics apps that we are happy with. Some even have an American accent. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against it, nor do I mind my children having an American accent, but it will confuse her when she goes to school.
So when I was offered an opportunity to review another phonics app, I was happy to go for it. The app Read Write Phonics (Android version for £1.49) hasn't covered everything Abby wants to know, but it should be enough for her early years.
Through READ, non-vowels are split into three sections based on how they sound like, such as 'p' and 't' are explosive, while 'f' and 'th' are friction. Vowels are split into short and long.
Each phonics will be pronounced by a nice voice (British female), while giving enough time for Abby to repeat after. It is then followed by an example word, again pronounced for her to repeat.
In the WRITE section, Abby got to learn how to write the alphabets, which to me is a bonus. It first shows how the letter is written in the correct way, then it was Abby's turn to trace it herself. The closer she got to writing it correctly (no missing dots), the more stars will appear as a reward.
I especially liked how the female voice encourages her to keep trying, and when Abby got it, the voice sounded very enthusiastic while praising her, just like any good child carer would.
The PHONICS section focus on how words are pronounced after blending the phonics together.
I really think this is a better app at teaching phonics. However, as children has a short attention span (or is it just mine?!) and there isn't really any games to go with the teaching, you either have to sit with your child and encourage him/ her to use the app for a bit longer, or be creative and make a game out of it. To be honest, seeing how Abby keep changing games every minute, I think it's probably just her instead of general.
What I would like to suggest to the team behind Read Write Phonics is to add a function to exit the game. I could not exit the game through any normal way apart from hitting the home button on my phone, and then do a force shut down through my active apps widget.
Another thing I noticed through the random trialling, was that the nice voice has pronounced 'pen' as 'pent'. I didn't check through all of them and see whether she made another mistake, but it is the only one out of the four to five words I checked. The rest was lovely.
This app is currently on Android only, but the iPhone version will be released later in the year.
Disclosure: I was given a full version of the app to review. I was offered to enter a competition but I did not enter; all opinions are honest and my own