There are two sections in this resource:
Introduction to Letter Sounds
The estimated time to complete this resource is 10 minutes.
You may download and print a copy of the following documents by clicking the links below.
Please note: This section is intended as a teacher resource and is not a model for a complete lesson.
The ability to accurately read words requires knowledge of the sound or sounds each letter represents. There are approximately 44 sounds in the English language that are represented by the 26 letters of the alphabet. There are five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and 21 consonants. The letter y can be both a consonant and a vowel; y is generally a consonant when it is at the beginning of a word or syllable (yam, yellow, young) and a vowel when it is not at the beginning of a word (gym, fly, belly).
As a teacher, it is important to know the sounds of the English alphabet and the letters that are used to represent them. The following resources provide recordings of the sounds in American English and can be used to help you accurately identify and pronounce letter sounds.
Every English word has at least one vowel. Each vowel generally represents three sounds: the long vowel, the short vowel, and the schwa sound. It’s important for students to know how to read and recognize spoken vowel sounds in order to become better readers and writers.
The long vowel sound can be remembered by the name of each vowel (a, e, i, o, u). For example, the long a sound is pronounced like the name of the letter a as in play.
The short vowel sound can be remembered by the following key words:
A as in apple
E as in egg
I as in itch
O as in octopus
U as in up
The schwa vowel sound refers to an unstressed vowel sound in multisyllabic words. All of the vowels can take on the schwa characteristic, based on the surrounding letters and the entire word. The schwa vowel sound is similar to the sounds represented by uh.
Phonetics: The Sounds of American English is a resource that can help you accurately hear and pronounce consonants and vowels. An animated diagram of how to produce each sound, a step-by-step description of how the sound is made, and video/audio of the sound provide support.
The site is arranged by linguistic terms. Sounds are classified according to manner, place, and voice. The site uses the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) rather than the modern English alphabet. A list of vowels and consonants along with corresponding locations and IPA symbols is available here or for download from the Resources section below. This handout will help you find the pronunciation of consonants and vowels on the Phonetics: The Sounds of American English site. An app is available here.