The number one reason that students struggle with spelling is because they do not hear each of the sounds in the word. Therefore, the number one method for teaching students to spell is to break the word apart into each of the individual sounds and blending them together. The problem, however, is that many students haven't been taught all 44 sounds of the English language.Instead, they've been taught using a traditional "alphabet" approach. This reason this causes many students difficulty int he area of reading and spelling is because there is not a one-to-one correspondence in the English language. This approach is teaches the code backwards. That is, it goes from "letter to sound" instead of from "sound to letter" and disregards the fact that speech evolved at least 30,000 years before writing. In other words, alphabetic writing was invented to represent speech; speech was not learned from reading. So, a print-to-sound (or conventional phonics approach) leaves gaps in learning, its inefficient, incomplete and only teaches part of the code. It leaves out how important it is to understand how spelling can change depending on whether or not the consonant is voiced or unvoiced (especially as it relates to inflectional endings) and how knowledge of syllables and syllable stress affects spelling. The alphabet-to-sound approach also overlooks the fact that some letter names bear little relationship to the sounds the letters represent and interfere with learning the sounds. Instead, a comprehensive, multi-linguistic, interwoven approach to teaching spelling is recommended by current research in the field of literacy and it is the foundation for the Spelling That Makes Sense program.
This handout is for anyone looking for a way to ensure that all of the sounds in the English language have been taught and as a resource to help students learn how to break words apart into individual sounds. This is a simple, but effective and necessary tool for working with students. This list was created by a Speech-Language Pathologist and accurately depicts the sounds of the English language and provides special considerations relative to American English pronunciation.