Phonemes are the smallest units of language based sounds that can be paired with graphemes or symbols that represent those sounds. These sound/symbol associations are the foundations to writing and reading text, and teaching them to young learners can help boost learning potential.
Why are There 44 Phonemes When the Alphabet has only 26 Letters?
There are 44 unique phoneme sounds in the English language for two reasons. On the one hand, some letters make more than one sound, while on the other hand, certain letter combinations, such as the vowel teams, make their own unique sounds.
So even though we have 44 sounds that make up our language, we have 250+ graphemes that can make those sounds. This is one of the reasons that spelling can be difficult to master. For example, er, ir, and ur, all make the same sound, so learners have to recall what the word looks like. Purple, pirple, or perple are all pronounced the same way, but only one offers the correct spelling.
What is the best way to teach phonemes to young learners?
- Do an assessment to determine what a student know and still needs to master: CLICK HERE to learn more about the Good Sensory Learning Reading Assessment.
- Make the learning process fun and memorable. Use games and enjoyable activities to create excitement. CLICK HERE to learn more about a bundle of options.
- Begin with the consonants in the alphabet and have fun pairing sounds with symbols. Be sure to master one letter at at time. CLICK HERE for some great ideas.
- Learn all the vowels and vowel teams. If you are interested in a fun and multisensory way to teach the vowel teams or vowel combinations, CLICK HERE.
The trick to mastering the graphemes and phonemes is to use a structured and organized approach and to make the learning process both fun and memorable.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.
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