Linguistic phonics …. in maths?

In the Year 1 programme of study, the Department for Education (Great Britain. 2013: 102) state that: “(Pupils should be taught to) read and write numbers from 1 to 20 in numerals and words.” Although this may seem like a daunting task at first, with a linguistic phonic approach it is fair easier (and more logical!).

There are only 21 words in the mix to meet the National Curriculum objective (29 words will cover numbers from 0-100):

z e | r o o ne tw o th r ee f our f i ve s i x
s e | v e n eigh t n i ne t e n e | l e | v e n t w e l ve th ir | t ee n
f our | t ee n f i f | t ee n s i x | t ee n s e | v e n | t ee n eigh | t ee n n i ne | tee n t w e n | t y
th ir | t y f our | t y f i f | t y s i x | t y s e | v e n | t y eigh | t y n i ne | t y
o ne    h u n | d r e d

* I have marked a syllable split with |

Most of these words have common spellings (e.g. representing /ee/). Less common spellings, such as the spelling of /or/ like in ‘court’ and ‘pour’ or the spelling of /ae/ like in ‘weight’ and ‘sleigh’, can be taught through comparison to other words with this spelling. I recommend saving Philpot, Walker and Case’s (2011) ‘English Spellings: A Lexicon’ to your desktop – never an unexplained spelling!

This academic year, Team 1 have trialled teaching mathematical vocabulary through linguistic phonics. We’re thrilled with the results. The children are more fluent in articulating their mathematical reasoning, orally and in written form.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We use Mathematics Mastery in Year 1. Each lesson includes ‘Star Words’ (key vocabulary). The children begin each lesson by saying the sounds and reading the syllables/words. Not only has this improved students’ reading and spelling, but it has also allowed them to develop their confidence and accuracy in using mathematical language in their reasoning.

Ehri (2003: 16) argues that, ‘the best phonics program is one that is deliberately integrated with reading and writing instruction,’ as research shows that students must use their alphabetic knowledge, when they are reading and writing across the curriculum, to develop fluency in applying this knowledge (Juel and Roper/Schneider, 1985). I would encourage all teachers to explore how phonics, across the curriculum, can support children in expanding their vocabulary, accurate pronunciation, and reading and spelling words accurately.


Ehri, L. (2003) Systematic phonics instruction: findings of the National Reading Panel. Available at: (Accessed: 21st May 2018).

Great Britain. Department for Education (2013) The National Curriculum in England: Key Stages 1 and 2 framework document. Available at: (Accessed: 21st May 2018).

Juel, C. and Roper/Schneider, D. (1985) The influence of basal readers on first grade reading. Reading Research Quarterly. 20(2) pp. 134-152.

Mathematics Mastery (2018) The Mathematics Mastery Programme. Available at: (Accessed: 21st May 2018).

Philpot, D., Walker, J. and Case, S. (2011) English Spellings: A Lexicon. Available at: (Accessed: 21st May 2018).

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

One thought on “Linguistic phonics …. in maths?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s