Welcome to RLAC's Phoneme Home

A Phoneme Reference Tool and Practice Activities

A core element of the Phonics First™ program is the emphasis on the correct production of each of the letter sounds used during lessons. Instructors must be confident and accurate in their own ability to say each sound clearly and correctly. In addition, instructors must be able to hear the sounds produced by students and determine if the student made the correct sound.

These exercises are designed to allow you to hear the correct sound for each of 31 phonemes (making 32 distinct sounds), to practice saying the sound correctly and to listen to a sound and determine if it was enunciated correctly.

Producing Phonics Sounds

As you listen to the sounds in the activities on the next page, it is important to practice producing them clearly and crisply so the students hear and learn them correctly. The information below in conjunction with the Phoneme Exercises will assist you in proper sound production.

Proper Pronunciation of Vowel Sounds

Initially, you will teach only the short vowel sounds for a, e, i, o and u. Vowel sounds are often the most difficult to discern when spoken and to produce accurately in isolation. The following words will be used with the students in teaching them the correct short vowel sounds:

a= apple     e = Ed the Elephant     i= itch     o = octopus     u = umbrella

Proper Production of Consonant Sounds

Many of our consonant sounds are classified as voiced or unvoiced, depending on whether they vibrate the vocal cords or not. Place your fingers on your vocal cords while making the voiced or unvoiced sounds. If you are saying them correctly, you should feel a vibration when speaking the voiced sounds and no vibration when speaking the unvoiced sounds.

Following are the voiced and unvoiced consonant sound pairs. They are paired because the placement of lips, tongue and teeth are the same for each pair; the only difference in producing the sounds comes in whether they are voiced or not.

Voiced

b

d

g

v

th (h)

z

j

w

 

Unvoiced

p

t

k

f

th (s)

s

ch

wh

* sh

** h

* “zh” as in azure is the voiced pair to sh

** “h” has no voiced pair. It is an aspirated sound made purely with a breath of air.

 

Another helpful way to think about making the consonant sounds is to classify them as clipped or continuous. The clipped sounds are said quickly in a bursting, staccato fashion, cutting the end very short WITHOUT ending in the /uh/ vowel sound. The continuous sounds make a long-lasting sound by holding the position of the mouth, lips, teeth steady and unchanged while making the sound.

Continuous

f

h

l

m

n

s

v

z

Clipped

b

c

d

g

j

k

p

qu



r**

t

w

x

y

** The letter “r” is the renegade! It is not uncommon to hear it pronounced differently by different people. In the Phonics First™ program, the consonant “r” sound, found only at the beginning of a word or syllable (rat, ripe, enrage), will be pronounced using a growling “r” sound followed only so slightly by a small /uh/… /rrrrrruh/.

Later in the skill sequence, “r” is part of the r-controlled vowel (or bossy-r) and will be pronounced as /er/, typically spelled “er”, “ir” or “ur.”