Are the things in the phonetics exercises real words or just made up sounds?
In the first half dozen or so topics, in exercises like match the cards, are the combinations of characters actual words? Or are they mostly just systematic combinations of sounds to teach the writing system? (i imagine at least a few must be words by coincidence?)
My husband is a native speaker of Arabic and he says that some of them are actual words but most of them are not. Mostly, they are just systematic combination of sounds to teach the writing system - just like you assumed.