Teaching phonics in Nigeria

For the past few years I have been working (for Cambridge University Press) on the development of print and digital material for the Nigerian schools’ market. With a large and competitive schooling system, this has proven a challenging and engaging experience. In order to differentiate ourselves from our competitors we have tried a number of strategies. One of the more successful ones so far has been the development of an integrated digital phonics course, provided with our print English textbooks. Phonics are already included in the NERDC English curriculum and covered by the teacher in the classroom, but with many Nigerians second or third language English-speakers, correct pronunciation is highly valued.

But first, what is phonics?

Phonics is used to teach reading through the development of a child’s phonemic understanding. The aim of teaching phonics is for a learner to associate the smallest unit of sound (or phoneme) with the corresponding spelling patterns they represent. Learners will eventually be able to decode new words by sounding them out. It is a very successful approach to teaching reading and pronunciation, used in schools globally. 

The Cambridge Primary English Phonics Programme

Bundled with our print books, the course aims to help pupils recognise and pronounce English sounds, using the International Phonics Alphabet (IPA). The visual text is accompanied by an audio recording, pronouncing the words correctly. The recording includes pauses to give pupils a chance to repeat words they have just heard.

The course covers short vowel sounds, long vowel sounds, consonants, diphthongs and monophthongs.

Each page includes an audio recording of the correct pronunciation of phonemes and words, with the ability for learners to repeat the words they had just heard. The audio clip could be played by the teacher in the classroom or used as a homework exercise by the learner.


The letters ir can make the // sound. It is a long vowel sound.

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