and without usage, language skills quickly fade.
On phonics or not, my feeling is that the phonic method is a tool, and a good one.
It certainly helped me because I had hearing difficulties when a young child. I needed those sounds to learn to pronounce words properly. And I speak extremely well in adulthood. But I'll admit I've never pronounced "H" as "a"che" ...always... "ha"che" ...even when reciting the alphabet. Because I've always needed reminding of the sound.