Funny Phonics?

When children start school and start learning phonics they are taught to use the technical names for the different phonics descriptors and for many parents this is baffling – so here are some quick definitions for you.

phoneme – the smallest single identifiable sound in a word, these can be single letters or combinations – e.g. the letters ‘sh’ represent just one sound, but ‘sp’ represents two (/s/ and /p/)

cluster – two (or three) letters making two (or three) sounds, e.g. the first two letters of ‘smart’ are a consonant cluster

grapheme – a letter or a group of letters representing one sound, e.g. sh, ch, igh, ough (as in ‘though’)

(vowel) digraph – two letters making one sound, e.g. sh, ch, th, p, vowel digraphs comprise of two vowels together to make one sound, e.g. ai, oo, ow

split digraph – two separated letters (split) making one sound, e.g. a-e as in take or i-e in kite

blend – to join the individual sounds together into words e.g. s-n-a-p becomes snap

segment – to split up a word into its individual phonemes in order to spell it, e.g. the word ‘cat’ has three phonemes: /c/ /a/ /t/

VC, CVC, CCVC – the abbreviations for vowel-consonant, consonant-vowel-consonant,
consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant which are used to describe the order of letters in words, e.g. am, ham, slam


One thought on “Funny Phonics?

  1. Very handy. I have to admit being baffled at first. Getting more used to it all now, thankfully, and I think daughter number 2 is benefiting from our increased understanding of this, and other things.


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