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Letters, sounds or what?

When talking about what children should be able to do when they start school, letters are often used and sometimes sounds are also mentioned. I myself often use the term “true to sound” and so I thought it would be a good idea to clarify what the terms are all about. Especially since some technical terms may also be used at parents' evenings or in discussions with parents.

Letters from A to Zett

What letters are initially seems clear: A, B, C ... to Z. But: There is the letter name and the sound value of a letter. It gets trickier: The letter name is what we say when we say the alphabet: A, Be, Ce, De, E, Ef, Ge, Ha, I, Jott, Ka, El, Em, En, O , Pe, Qu, Er, Es, Te, U, Vau, We, Ix, Ypsilon, Zett. The sound value is the sound to a letter that we hear in a word. With Rabe this is for example: "R", "A", "B", "E" and not "Er" "A" "Be" "E". But two things become clear here: Firstly, why vowels are called vowels, their letter name does not contain any sound other than the letter: A, E, I, O, U. Second, why children leave out letters at the beginning of the writing course. They confuse the letter name and the sound value: Besen is then Bsn because the children think like this: I hear "Be", so there is a B at the beginning, then I hear "s", that is an "s" and then "En", so "n". Incidentally, some children with reading and spelling difficulties also make the same mistake because they lack the same skill that school beginners do not have: phonetic-letter orientation.

Sound-letter assignment

The sound-letter orientation is the ability to assign a letter to every sound heard. It's not that easy, because first you have to distinguish the sounds: Besen consists of the sounds "B" "E" "S" "E" "N". A child has to recognize these sounds and then assign the appropriate letters. This is the basis of understandable spelling and spelling. This sound-letter assignment is also the reason why there are more than 26 letters in the sound tables of the primers. "Ä", "Ö", "Ü", "Au", "Ei", "Eu", "Pf", "Sch", "Ch" and "St" are considered separate sounds. Your child only learns these complicated sounds in school when they already know all the letters and their sounds. That’s soon enough.

Sound words

When I write first-time reading books or design educational games, I try to make sure that I only use "words that are true to the sound". These are words in which the sounds clearly indicate a letter: "raven" for example or "pineapple", "pirate" or "can". A child who has understood the principle of phonetic-letter orientation for the alphabet can spell these words correctly at an early age. This is a sense of achievement and is particularly important when playing games with self-control. For example, children often write “Vase” as “Wase” because they correctly hear the “V” in the case as a “W”. Therefore, by the way, the donkey bridge from the "Vogel-V" is not so good, the "V" can sound different. Then prefer “Window-F” or “Feather-F”, that's clear. For example, crossword puzzles for children that contain non-phonetic words are almost always unsuccessful because the exception words and spelling principles are only learned from the second grade to the end of the fourth grade.

Sound knowledge of prospective school children

Most children, when they come to school, can already recognize the initial sounds, which are also called initial sounds. You can practice this with a simple letter and picture memory if you want. This is what preschoolers enjoy because it engages them with school topics. Perhaps you will even make a letter memory together with your child. Playing cards are made from cardboard or index cards: a letter is written on one card, a suitable picture from a magazine or the like is glued onto the other. For each letter, a picture is sought that fits: e.g. B. A - monkey, B - banana or ball. Under Extras you will also find templates for such a memory.

Recognize the position of the sounds

An exercise that appears in some school tests is the question of the position of a sound. The children hear words and have to say whether they hear a previously named sound at the beginning, at the end or in the middle. With “Besen” the “S” sound is in the middle, with “Sahne” at the beginning and with “Bus” at the end. Perhaps you still know this campfire game in which you formed word chains: The first one said a word and the next had to form a word with the last letter or sound of a word. You can also use the game to raise your child's awareness of sounds. But you have to consider: Some sounds can be represented by different letters - a "D" at the end of a word often sounds like "T" in "Hund" for example, a "B" like a "P" in "Korb" and a "G" like a "K" in "Zug". We know that there has to be a “D”, “B” or “G” because of course you see the words J and because we wrote them so many times that I memorized it. Children rely on their hearing and then “dog” may be followed by “tiger”, which you should simply accept without going into further detail. It learns that too at school and when it has learned how to determine the difference, then you can play the game again with the correct sound-letter assignment J oops. The article shouldn't be that long, it's amazing how much you can write about such a seemingly simple topic, but that also shows what children have to learn, which we take for granted. So don't scold if your child cannot match sounds and letters straight away.