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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Content knowledge

Information on literacy acquisition, structured literacy, and the goal of phonics instruction to support teachers' use of the Ready to Read Phonics Plus books. 

Literacy acquisition

Literacy is a foundational skill. To be successfully literate, children need to master three key areas of reading and writing: learning the code, making meaning, and thinking critically.

Literacy acquisition.

Learning the code
The ability to decode and encode written language. Students:

  • develop phonological awareness
  • understand the alphabetic principle.

Making meaning
The knowledge, strategies, and awareness to gain and convey meaning when reading and writing. Students understand:

  • the types and purposes of different text
  • texts are for an audience.

Thinking critically
Analysing meaning. Students:

  • read and respond critically to text
  • are critically aware when composing text.

Goal of phonics instruction

The goal of phonics instruction is to help children to learn and be able to use the alphabetic principle. Phonics instruction helps children learn the relationships between the letters of written language and the sounds of spoken language. 

As children learn the predictable relationships between sounds and letters, they are increasingly able to apply these relationships to familiar and unfamiliar words. As they do this, they begin to read with fluency.

Teaching phonics

  • Be explicit – directly teach children the specific associations between letters and sounds, rather than expecting them to gain this knowledge indirectly or implicitly.
  • Be systematic and sequential – The English language has a complicated spelling system. It is important to teach letter-sound mappings in a systematic way, beginning with simple letter-sound rules and then moving onto more complex associations. The goal of systematic and sequential instruction is to make sure that students have the knowledge they need to learn a new skill. It's important to practice and review previously learned skills.

More information



Other resources

Inclusive Education: The simple view of reading and literacy acquisition
Find out how to support learners to “crack the code” and build their language comprehension. This gives information about early literacy acquisition, the simple view of reading, and Scarborough’s Reading Rope.

Updated on: 27 Feb 2023