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Phonics is a "way of teaching the code-based portion of reading and spelling that stresses symbol-sound relationships; especially important in beginning reading instruction".

All readers of an alphabetic language such as English use phonics knowledge and decoding skills to read words. Readers know the relationships between letters or groups of letters and their sounds (called sound-symbol correspondences or phoneme-grapheme correspondences) and rules for how words are spelled. Readers can decode words, which involves using phonics knowledge and phonemic skills to turn a printed word into sounds. Becoming a proficient reader requires these skills.

"In alphabetic systems, the phonemes of the language are represented by letters or groups of letters (graphemes, e.g., b → /b/, ph → /f/). If a child learns to decode that symbol-to-sound relationship, then that child will have the ability to translate printed words into spoken language, thereby accessing information about meaning".

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