Reading and Writing

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 1365–1384 | Cite as

Long-term effects of synthetic versus analytic phonics teaching on the reading and spelling ability of 10 year old boys and girls

  • Rhona S. JohnstonEmail author
  • Sarah McGeown
  • Joyce E. Watson


A comparison was made of 10-year-old boys and girls who had learnt to read by analytic or synthetic phonics methods as part of their early literacy programmes. The boys taught by the synthetic phonics method had better word reading than the girls in their classes, and their spelling and reading comprehension was as good. In contrast, with analytic phonics teaching, although the boys performed as well as the girls in word reading, they had inferior spelling and reading comprehension. Overall, the group taught by synthetic phonics had better word reading, spelling, and reading comprehension. There was no evidence that the synthetic phonics approach, which early on teaches children to blend letter sounds in order to read unfamiliar words, led to any impairment in the reading of irregular words.


Synthetic phonics Analytic phonics Opaque orthography 



The authors would like to thank the pupils and teachers who took part in this study. They would also like to gratefully acknowledge funding from the Scottish Executive Education Department and the University of Hull; however, the views expressed here are not necessarily those of these bodies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rhona S. Johnston
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sarah McGeown
    • 1
  • Joyce E. Watson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HullHullEngland, UK

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