Using the Syllabic Method in Class

May 27, 2020
The syllabic method is used to teach children to read at a very young age. Continue reading to learn more about it!

Pedagogues Friedrich Gedike and Samuel Heinicke developed the syllabic method. Both of them focused on the search for a technique that allowed children to learn to read in a much faster and more effective way. Therefore, they came up with this method, which uses syllables and their combinations to make this process easier.

According to some articles, such as “Writing and Reading: Social fact, not natural”, the syllabic method is a derivation of the phonetic method. The reason for this is that, before presenting the syllables to children, it’s vital that they understand how each word sounds separately. Only then will they be able to make the corresponding combinations.

The syllabic method in class

As the article “Initial writing and cognitive style” points out, this method allows children to correctly recognize and use the spellings that represent each letter of the alphabet and make combinations with them according to the rules of the language they’re trying to learn.

Therefore, to put it into practice in the classroom, it’s important to follow the following steps.

Vowels and consonants

During the application of the syllabic method, all the exercises that are going to be done with the students will focus on the vowels first. Working with the consonants comes later. Let’s see them in an exemplified way to understand this:

  • Learning vowels. The vowels are taught emphasizing how they’re read and written. In this way, the students will start reading them aloud and identify the sound with the corresponding spelling.
  • Learning consonants. You shouldn’t teach them in an isolated way, but along with the vowels that the students already know. This is why professors often teach easy combinations first, such as ma-me-mi-mo-mu. The important thing is that each student becomes familiar with the sound of the consonants attached to the vowels.

These are the first exercises that professors can apply in the classroom, given that they’re the foundation of the syllabic system. It’s okay to use colors, especially in consonant and vocal combinations, in order to make learning much easier. Once this first step is ready, you can continue with the next one.

A boy sitting by a tree reading a book.

The syllabic method: working with syllables

Step one is done. The students are familiar with vowels and consonants and with some of their combinations. Now, it’s important to go one step further.

As you can see, the syllabic method is progressive and the difficulty increases as students assimilate knowledge. Here are some key exercises to work with syllables in a more advanced way:

  • Introduce a consonant in the vowel-consonant combinations. We’re talking about exercises in which the students work on pronouncing and spelling combinations such as bra-bre-bri-bro-bru.
  • Work with syllables in reverse order. At this point, the students would’ve seen combinations where the consonant went first (or two consonants) and then the vowel. However, now the difficulty will rely on changing this order. Thus, you can work with al-el-il-ol-ul or -ar-er-go-or-ur.

Working with the syllables in this way will allow the children to learn how the same consonant can change its pronunciation depending on the vowel next to it. For example, the pronunciation of “ch” in “cherry” and in “school”.

Diphthongs, triphthongs, and mixed syllables

At this point, and having dominated the previous lessons, it’s time to move on. Now, it’s convenient to start seeing other combinations that can occur between vowels and consonants. We’re talking about diphthongs, triphthongs, and mixed syllables. Let’s look at some exercises that you can do for this purpose:

  • Diphthongs. These are quite simple. The children will be introduced to work with simple diphthongs such as aw-oi-ou, in addition to another series of possible combinations.
  • Triphthongs. In these ones, you add one more vowel to the previous units. It’s a glide from one vowel to another and into a third.
  • Mixed syllables. In this case, the syllables that were studied at the beginning (consonant + vowel) are combined with those that are performed in reverse (vowel + consonant). All this forming the same word.
A mother teaching her daughter to read using the syllabic method.

Sentence formation and expressive reading

Once all the previous steps are complete, students should feel prepared to start building increasingly broad sentences, until they form sentences. However, in any case, the ultimate goal of the syllabic method is to get them to read and understand a text easily, without major complications.

This method has been proven to work very well. It allows children to start getting acquainted with different spellings and sounds. As a result, they end up being able to not only read a text but understand it. Moreover, it encourages them to learn to write sentences and even short texts themselves.

This may not be one of the best-known methods worldwide. However, professors can integrate it into the classroom in a very easy way. The important thing is that the difficulty of the exercises increases little by little to give the children the opportunity to learn at their own pace. It can yield very positive results!

  • Chartier, A. M., & Hébrard, J. (2001). Método silábico e método global: alguns esclarecimentos históricos. História da educação5(10), 141-154.
  • Freeman, Y. (1988). Métodos de lectura en español¿ Reflejan nuestro conocimiento actual del proceso de lectura?. Lectura y vida9(5).
  • Valente, F., & Alves Martins, M. (2004). Competências metalinguísticas e aprendizagem da leitura em duas turmas do 1. º ano de escolaridade com métodos de ensino diferentes. Análise Psicológica22(1), 193-212.