What's the difference between letter names and letter sounds
What’s the difference between letter sounds and letter names? How should you talk Here’s a short guide to abut them with your clarify this child? And 6 tips to helpTalk only about names? improve your child’sTalk only about sounds? literacyTalk about both?
The sound of different languagesChildren are born with the capacity to learnany languageThey learn what they hearIf they hear several languages at once, theycan learn several languages at onceThey want to communicate!
What happens when wecan’t speak to someone but we want to communicate?We write…they read
Letters represent the sounds of a spoken languageThere are many different alphabets, eg Roman…26 letters Greek…24 letters Welsh…28 letters `
Our alphabet is a code…but you can’t use a code unless you know what it’s for So time must be spent exploring the sounds of spoken language before introducing the code for them But how do we do this?
Draw attention to sounds that are verysimilar…make up and point out rhymesDraw attention to spoken words, eg step outthe words in an oral sentence…yes…withfeet!Draw attention to syllables…the chunky partsof words…start with namesDraw attention to the sound a spoken wordstarts with…say the word slowly to help yourchild hear it
The next step is…Listening for the last sound in a word…this isharderBreaking up a spoken word into sounds…eg, put down a finger for each sound youhear in the word dog… /d/ (duh), /o/ (ohh), /g/ (guh) Remember these are SPOKEN words This is not about letters
For success…Stick to short spoken words at firstThe easiest sound to hear is the first soundThe next easiest is the last soundMiddle sounds are harder to hear and isolateat first
Your child may only be able to hear andisolate the first soundGive them lots of practice doing this so theyfeel successful at itAt the same time, start showing them to listenfor, say and remember the last sound
Be clear about lettersWhen a child doesn’t understand that lettersare code for spoken sounds, working on thealphabet means very little to them becausethey don’t understand what it’s forThey need to learn the names of the lettersand the sounds they represent at the sametimeTake it slowly!
How to explain letter names and sounds“The name of this letter is B and it makes a very shortsound, buh.” (/b/)“Can you say buh quickly?”“Here’s a word that starts with this buh sound…bus.”“Can you hear the buh sound at the beginning when Isay the word bus slowly?”“We write the letter B when we want to write a wordthat begins with this buh sound.”
Some letters represent very short sounds,eg /b/, /d/, /g/Some represent much longer sounds, eg/f/, /s/, /m/It’s a good idea to point this out and get yourchild to practice saying them with a focus onlength
Why talk about letternames and sounds at the same time?Many children get confused and mix up letternames and sounds when asked to identifyletters that are not in alphabetic orderThis frequently leads to reading and writingproblems
Letter names are an anchor point for childrenbecause they never changeLater on, they discover that many lettersrepresent other sounds when used in differentspelling patternsWhen a child knows that the letter A is alwayscalled the letter A, they cope with its soundrepresentations in different spelling patternsmuch more easily
Read more about… reading comprehension improving writing math for kids