Looking for a phonics sounds list to help your students learn their sounds? Here are two printable phonics charts options and a bunch of free phonics resources to make building phonemic awareness and phonics skills easy and fun!
Did you know there are 44 individual sounds in the English language? These speech sounds are called phonemes, the smallest unit of sound in our language.
These individual phonemes cover the range of sounds that come from the 26 letters of the alphabet. They're usually written in slashes like /k/ or /b/ to indicate that they represent the spoken sounds, not the letter or spelling pattern.
What are the 44 phonemes in the English language?
The following phonemes represent the distinct sounds in the English alphabet.
- Consonant sounds- /b/, /c/, /d/, /f/, /g/, /h/, /j/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /p/, /qu/, /r/, /s/, /t/, /v/, /w/, /x/, /y/, /z/
- Consonant digraphs- /ch/, /th/, /sh/, /ng/, /zh/
- Long vowels- /ay/, /ee/, /igh/, /oa/, /ew/, /yu/
- Short vowel sounds- /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/, /oo/
- Diphthongs or vowel teams- /oi/, /ow/
- R-controlled vowels- /eer/, /air/, /or/, /ar/, /er/
Accents can lead to some differences. The above list has been written from the perspective of an Australian accent. Here are some examples of the differences that you may find if you have a US accent:
- /aw/ and /or/ are 2 separate phonemes
- /eer/ is not considered to be a phoneme, as it is pronounced as /ee/-/r/
What is a Phonics Sounds List?
A phonics sounds list is NOT an alphabet poster (which is based around letter names). Instead, it is a list of all the different sounds of the English language. It includes all of the different letter combinations to make a distinct sound.
For example, it will show how the sound /f/ may be written in different combinations like f (fat), ff (puff), or ph (phone). Or it might show that the sound /h/ may be written with the letter h (hat) or digraph wh (who).
How do you use a Phonics Sounds List?
There are so many ways to use a list like this! They are handy for both teachers and young students. Here are a few ideas:
1. Use as a mini sound wall to support small groups lessons
This valuable resource is a great visual aid to help students understand that different ways to spell a single sound exist. Give each student a list and have them mark the sounds they've learned. This can complement a large sound wall that you likely have on display on one of your classroom bulletin boards.
2. Teach students to use them for spelling
The best thing about teaching reading this way is that students can use a sound that they know in order to figure out the spelling. As students pronounce the word, they can quickly narrow down the most likely spelling options. This is a phenomenal way to build independence.
3. Plan instruction at-a-glance
Although we know the different phonemes, sometimes it's hard to remember all the spelling patterns when planning out our own phonics lessons. Print out a phonics sounds list as a useful reference to help you quickly remember all the targeted spellings you want to teach for a specific phoneme or see which phonemes use similar patterns.
4. Clarify correct pronunciation
Especially for young learners, a list is a great way to clarify how to pronounce all the sounds in English words. This is really helpful with bossy r words, different vowel sounds, and vowel digraphs.
5. Teach digraphs, trigraphs and more
This list makes it clear that there are sounds and symbols (letters) representing those sounds. When students have context for this understanding, they'll pick up on the concept of digraphs, common vowel sounds and diphthongs much faster!
Two Free Printable Phonics Sounds Lists
I absolutely love helping teachers support their students' literacy. I have 2 free Phonics Sound Charts that break down all phonemes and spelling patterns for vowels and consonants.
Easy Phonics Chart Freebie
This free printable has two pages: one for the consonant sounds and one for vowels. Each phoneme has different spelling patterns and examples of words to clarify the specific sound. Print this anchor chart in colour or black and white to make copies for your entire class or small group! Get the Phonics Chart Freebie here.
Rainbow Phonics Sound Charts
If you're looking for additional charts, these might be for you! These free printable pages are more than just a list of sounds and are perfect for teachers following the Science of Reading. There are different versions of vowel and consonant sounds to help you find the right one for your needs.
I intentionally added several versions, including articulation, to help you teach students how to make each type of sound.
- Sorted by vowel sound (with symbols)
- Sorted by vowel sound (without symbols)
- Sorted by articulation (Vowel Valley)
- Sorted by articulation (see below)
- Sorted by alphabetical (single sounds) and then digraphs
Consonant Sound Articulation:
- Stops: p, d, b, t, c/k, g
- Nasals: m, n, ng
- Fricatives: f, th, v, s, z, h, sh, zh
- Affricates: ch, j
- Glides: w, y
- Liquids: l, r
- Two Sounds: x, qu
Why Phonemic Awareness is Important
Oral language is the foundation of literacy. Students who understand the unique sounds in different words can then learn letter-sound relationships, irregular spelling patterns, and more.
This concept has been undervalued for a long time as analytic phonics programmes taught students to recognise words by sight or other context clues instead of actually decoding them. In a synthetic phonics approach, students first learn the individual sounds of the English language and then learn how to encode and decode those with their knowledge of letters and common spelling patterns.
This is the most effective way to teach students how to read and makes reading much, much easier.
How to Develop Phonemic Awareness
Since students develop their understanding of the written word based on their oral language skills, little learners must learn all the phonemes and practice identifying and manipulating them in many ways. This might look like this:
- Identifying sounds at the beginning, middle, and end of a word
- Blending sounds together
- Adding sounds to words
- Deleting sounds from words
- Substituting sounds
- Rhyming words
- Counting syllables
Whilst these are initially ORAL skills (where students are simply manipulating the letter sounds orally), they can then be applied to phonics lessons too (where students are manipulating phonemes in written form).
There are many ways to teach and reinforce phonemic awareness, but it's more than printing just a few phonics worksheets or playing some phonics games. Your students deserve systematic synthetic phonics instruction to teach them using the most evidence-based practices out there.
I know many teachers didn't learn this framework in their teacher training, and it's such a passion of mine to make synthetic phonics easy and accessible.
My handbook Phonics & Beeyond will help you learn how to explicitly teach and consolidate phonics knowledge for your K-6 students. It's jam-packed with 250 pages of helpful resources and activities to simplify this sometimes confusing framework.
The best part of all is that it's entirely free!
You'll learn about phonics, see examples of how to teach phonics at different grade levels, get tons of activities to teach and consolidate phonics knowledge with your students, and learn how to deal with high frequency words, assessment, integrate phonics in other content areas.
It's everything I wish I had years ago as my free gift to you.
Looking for more resources for your phonics lessons?
If teaching phonics and phonemic awareness feels challenging for you, you're in the right place! I have tons of resources (including many free resources!) to help make it simple and straightforward for you and your early readers.
Digital and Printable Phonics Activities
When you're ready to dive in, I have heaps of free printable activities to make the teaching of phonics and phonics centers super easy for you. You'll find resources like:
- Word sorts for teaching phonemes and syllables
- CVC words, CVCC and CCVC words - perfect for a beginner reader in the early years
If you're not sure where to start with your students, try this quick phonics screener to pinpoint your next steps for teaching new concepts.
Sound Wall Templates
Although phonics sounds lists are great for supporting students or planning instruction, they're just printable versions of a sound wall. These are fabulous ways to help students learn how to make and classify all English sounds, and apply this knowledge to both familiar words and new words. Build your own sound wall on one of your classroom bulletin boards to prioritise phonics instruction in your classroom. Here are some examples of how you might choose to display your sound walls.
You may also like the matching Articulation Flash Cards.
Were these phonics sounds lists helpful to you? Don't forget to check out my Freebee library, and follow along @mrslearningbee for plenty more evidence-based, fun and actionable tips for implementing phonics in your classroom!