The Letter Sounds
The English language has 26 letters in its alphabet and most experts
believe there are 44 letter sounds [The experts debate on anywhere
between 39 to 45, but most accept 44]. If there were 44 letters in our
alphabet, then reading would really be simple! Each letter would have
its own sound. However, since there are 44 sounds and only 26 letters,
some letters have to make more than one sound. [Note: Before teaching
letter sounds, the student should know the alphabet in the correct
order. See Teaching The Alphabet.]
Ready for the good news? Sixteen letters almost
always make the same sound! That means that there are only 10 letters
which make more than one sound. The sixteen letters are what we call
constant consonants. They can be learned quickly. Then the remaining
10 letters and their various sounds can be learned.
The sixteen constant consonants are:
B D F H J K L M N P Q R T V X Z
There are six special letters in this list: F H K P T X. Do you
know what is different about them? Try to figure it out. Click here to see if you are right.
There are five more consonants, C G S W Y, and they make more
than one sound on a regular basis. Phonics provides the insight to
know which sounds these letters make and when.
The five regular vowels, A E I O U, make up the rest of our letter
sounds. An easy way to teach children to remember these regular or
primary vowels is the sentence: Lady [AE] I [I] owe [O] you [U] some
money. Vowels have their own long and short sounds as well as being
copycats. The short sound is the normal sound of the vowel.
Before we go on, we should note that both “W" and “Y" can sometimes
act as vowels, as well as consonants. They can be very versatile
Some programs present a complicated
and unnecessary idea when they refer to the hard and soft sounds of some
letters. What is a hard or soft sound? Letter sounds are not hard or
soft and it makes learning to read
unnecessarily difficult. For example, some people talk about the hard
or soft sound of “C." It is much easier to say that “C" sometimes
copies “S" and sometimes copies “K." Then the very simple rule needs to be given explaining when to know which letter “C" is going to copy. This is a
very important rule since “C" is in about 25% of English words. “C,"
by the way, is the only letter which has no sound of its own. It is a
It is important, after the student
has mastered the main letter sounds, to make sure they know all the
sounds a letter can make. For example, did you know the letter “A"
actually makes 9 sounds [or to be exact - 8 sounds and it can be
silent]. See how many you can figure out before you click here to see the "A's" letter sounds.
Sometimes an emphasis is placed on blended sounds. Actually, most
blended sounds will come naturally as a person sounds out the individual
letter sounds and puts them together. Also, breaking longer words into
syllables is helpful.
At Academic Associates Vernon and the world, we teach all the
sounds of the letters and the phonetic rules that go with them. This is
done in easy steps so the reading comes almost automatically. Sign up
for our complete reading program now.
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