A similar article to ‘Optimal Sight Vocabulary’ is being prepared which identifies the optimal phonic skills to teach beginning readers. Researchers have suggested that there as many as 461 different phonic rules to teach. One well known programme teaches 120 and the National Literacy Strategy taught 108. There are two major problems in teaching phonic skills. The first is that written English is not phonically regular so some words cannot be read accurately through applying phonic skills. The second problem is that some letter combinations (for example ‘ea’) can represent up to seven different sounds. This is often extremely confusing for beginning readers and has been addressed in research conducted by Optima through the concept of phonic self-correction. The research that will be reported in this article will demonstrate which print to sound associations (technically known as grapheme-phoneme mappings) are the most useful to teach. Within Optima Programmes any potential confusion is avoided through only teaching the most frequently occurring phoneme for each letter or letter combination.

Research into Core Instructional Principles Study 8