Understanding the jargon

At the Summit Academy, we understand that there is specialist jargon associated with any profession. Below is an explanation of some of the language we use.

Phonology (rhyming and syllables)

Phonology is the understanding of the sound structure of spoken words and is critical for reading and spelling. Phonological awareness includes rhyming, counting words in spoken sentence, and identifying syllables in spoken words. An important aspect of phonological awareness is the ability to segment words into their component sounds which are called phonemes.

A phoneme is the smallest distinct unit of sound in a language, for example the word cap has three phonemes (k, ă, p), and the word smooth has four phonemes (s, m oo, th).

Phonics (sound-symbol association)

Once students have developed the awareness of phonemes of spoken language, they must learn how to map the phonemes to symbols or printed letters. Sound-symbol association must be taught and mastered in two directions:

  • Reading (visual to auditory)
  • Spelling (auditory to visual)

Students must also master the blending of sounds and letters into words as well as the segmenting of whole words into the individual sounds.


A syllable is a unit of language with one vowel sound. Instruction includes teaching of the six basic syllable types in the English language:

  • Closed
  • Vowel-consonant-e
  • Open
  • Consonant-le
  • R-controlled
  • Vowel pair

Knowledge of syllable types is an important organising idea. By knowing the syllable type, the reader can better determine the sound of the vowel in the syllable. Syllable division rules heighten the reader’s awareness of where a long, unfamiliar word may be divided for great accuracy in reading the word.

Morphology (word roots, prefixes and suffixes)

A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in the language. Our structured literacy curriculum includes the study of base words, roots, prefixes, and suffixes. For example, the word ‘instructor’ contains the root word ‘struct’ which means to ‘build’, and the prefix ‘in’ so an ‘instructor’ is one who builds knowledge in students.

Syntax (grammar)

Syntax is the set of principles that dictate the sequence and function of words in a sentence in order to convey meaning. This includes grammar, sentence variation, and the mechanics of language. 

Semantics (meaning or comprehension)

Semantics is that aspect of language concerned with meaning. Our curriculum includes instruction in the comprehension of written language.

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