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The Alphabet Code

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					The Alphabet Code
The Alphabet Code is based on the
relationship between the sounds of
spoken language and the letters
that represent them in writing.
Spoken language is made up of sounds.



These sounds are blended together to make:


Syllables
Words
Sentences

and Texts
The smallest units of sound in spoken
language are called phonemes.


There are approximately 43 phonemes in the
English Language.


24 of these phonemes are consonant sounds.
19 of these phonemes are vowel sounds.
                       Consonant Sounds
The consonant sounds include:


1)   Sounds usually represented by the following letters:


b as in bed              k as in cat or kite   s as in silk or cell
d as in dog              l as in laugh         t as in tap
f as in fan or graph     m as in man           v as in van
g as in get              n as in net           w as in water
h as in hat              p as in pig           y as in yellow
j as in jam or gel       r as in rabbit        z as in zoo.
      and also
                    Some linguists also count

sh as in sheep
ch as in chips      Ch as in loch
dj as in pleasure
ng as in sing       and


And                 hw as in whom


th as in this
th as in thumb
Note:
When teaching consonant sounds, do not
add a vowel afterwards.
That is, avoid saying
buh / duh / fuh etc.
                           Vowel Sounds
                                   Include:



 5 “short” vowel sounds                    5 “long” vowel sounds


 a as in cat                               a_e as in cake
 e as in bed                               ee as in feet
 i as in fit                               i_e as in bike
 o as in hot                               o_e as in vote
 u as in cut                               u_e as in cube



Note: when speaking, there is no difference in the length of time it takes
to say long and short vowel sounds.
 And nine other vowel sounds, making nineteen in all.



ar as in car                  oo as in look             and
ir as in bird                 oo as in moon             er as in father
or as in ford                 aw as in law
air as in chair               ow as in owl


Note (1): Some Belizean linguists have noted that, in Belize, the American
aw sound, as in law, does not really exist.
Note (2): In some countires (not Belize) linguists have identified two
different “short u” sounds.
Note (3): Some people say the er (father) sound very similarly to the a
sound.
                                                  pig = 3          p-i-g
                                                  duck = 3         d-u-ck

                         Quick Quiz               cow = 2          c-ow
                                                  chicken = 5      ch-i-ck-e-n
                                                  puppy = 4        p-u-pp-y
How many sounds are there in the following words?elephant = 7      e-l-e-ph-a-n-t
                                                  lion= 4          l-i-o-n


                                              duck
 pig              elephant
                                                            lion

                            puppy
chicken
                                                  cow
However, although there are approximately
43 sounds in the English language . . .

There are only 26 letters in the English
alphabet!


The way these 26 letters are used singly or in
combination, to represent the 43 sounds is called
the alphabet code.
  The Alphabet Code
Explained in More Detail
Much of the time, the same letters
represent the same sounds.


What sounds do these letters usually
represent?


s    b       o       k         p       l (L)
 Sometimes the same letter can represent
 different sounds, depending on the word.
 Note the different sounds represented by the
 letter   c in the following words:

cat                cell              cello

 Or the letter   u in these words:
uncle                 uniform
Most of the time one sound is
represented by one letter, but
sometimes one sound is represented by
two or more letters.
There are three sounds in the word cat.


They are represented by three letters c + a + t.



There are also three sounds in the word shock.


They are represented by the letters sh + o + ck.
                           QUICK QUIZ
    How many sounds are there in the following
                    words?

    (a) bed                (b)    fang            (c)    itch
    (d) chess              (e)    Belizean


bed = b + e + d       (3 sounds and 3 letters)
fang = f + a + ng     (3 sounds and 4 letters)
itch = i(t) + ch      (2 sounds and 4 letters)
chess = ch + e + ss   (3 sounds and 5 letters)
Belizean = B + e + l + ee + z + ee + a + n (8 sounds and 8 letters)
When two or more letters represent one sound, the term
digraph is used.




Common digraphs are found in the following words:




                                boat
chop            this                          bait
                               shell
 tack
              cake
        Consonant Blends
 Consonant blends are not digraphs and
 should be taught as two different
 sounds.
                    trip = t+r+i+p
drum = d+r+u+m

          stink = s+t+i+n+k


blunt = b+l+u+n+t    click = c+l+i+ck
                  Quick Quiz
    Which words begin with digraphs and which
    words begin with blends?



                                   fries
cheese      steak
                                     shrimp

                    cream
chicken
                                      pheasant
Often the same sound can be represented by different letters, depending
on the word.




                                           lady
                     feet
be
                     eat                     money

           thief                       receive
Some consonant sounds that
can be written in different
ways.
fog / graph
sit / cell / science / hiss
cat / kite / Christ
jam / gel
red / write
However, the sounds with the biggest
variation of spellings are the long
vowel sounds.


bay / bait / bade
see / sea / lazy
time / by / light
hope / float
lute / flew
                The Letter X

In many words, the letter x represents two sounds k + s.


Thus taxi could easily be written as taksi, fox and foks
and tax as taks.




Note: When teaching phonics, most teachers tell children that x
represents the sound ks.
                           QU

In most words, qu represents two sounds, k+w:
quick, quail, quiver, quite.
                The IR Debate
    How many sounds are there in the word bird


Most textbooks state that the word bird has three sounds
b-ir-d.


However, in some regions and countries, including much of
Belize, there is a distinct “r” sound, and therefore four sounds:
b-i-r-d.


The same issue occurs with all the “r-controlled” vowels, as in
burn, barn, corn, etc.
The Alphabet Code and Phonics
When children sound out words in order to read them,
they are using their knowledge of the relationship
between sounds and letters.


This is called phonics knowledge.
When children read using phonics knowledge, they
identify the sounds represented by the letters and blend
them together.



Thus d + o + g = dog


sh + o + p = shop


s + c + r + a + t + ch = scratch
When children write using phonics knowledge, they identify the
sounds in the word they want and then write the letters that
represent those sounds.



This works well with conventionally spelt words, but will lead to errors
with unconventional spellings.


However, these invented spellings should not be regarded as a big
problem for beginner readers.
As a child’s literacy skills develop, he or she will spell an increasing
number of words accurately.
REVIEW
Words are made up of individual
sounds, called phonemes.


In writing, these sounds are
represented by one or more letters.
The letter or letters that represent a sound are
called graphemes.


Technically, therefore, in the alphabet code, we
say that graphemes represent phonemes.
Usually, in any written word, the number
of phonemes will be the same as the
number of graphemes.


But this does not mean that the number
of phonemes will be the same as the
number of letters.
In order to be a good reader, a person needs
strong knowledge of the whole alphabet code,
including the various ways that sounds are
written and letters are used.
The End

				
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