Phonemes and Graphemes

The first time that I taught infants, I had very little (if any) knowledge of phonics and how to teach it. I was lead completely by a helpful colleague and the Jolly Phonics manual. I muddled through, doing my best but not truly understanding what it was all about.

Over the next decade I had a lot of dealings with Speech and Language Therapists and came to understand the connection between what they do and the foundations of learning to read.

Words are made up of sequences of phonemes, the smallest unit of sound in spoken speech. Reading involves learning the correspondences between these phonemes and the letters of the alphabet.

The English language has approximately 44 phonemes; 24 consonant sounds and 20 vowel sounds. Correct articulation of these sounds when teaching phonics is of utmost importance. But how do teachers know if we are pronouncing them correctly? Especially when our teaching materials come from another country?

Chances are, you didn’t learn this in college. Over the past few years, I have searched for information on this topic and have had to draw from various different sources. I believe that teachers need to be knowledgeable in this area in order to teach phonics and reading effectively.


It has taken me four months to create this guide and I am finally ready to share it with you all. I hope it will be useful to teachers and parents of beginning and struggling readers. Please let me know what you think!