Continuum Unpacked

Alphabetic Knowledge

Letter Sounds or Letter Names?

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Category: Alphabetic Knowledge

Many educators are unsure what to teach first: the sound of a letter, or the name of a letter? Research is not yet clear, and opinions are split. Proponents of teaching a letter’s sound first contend that it is the sound that is needed in reading and spelling, and that some letter names can make learning sounds more challenging (e.g. the first sound in the word “double-u” is /d/, which can be confusing).

Proponents of teaching a letter’s name emphasize that the name is a stable category that supports learning a letter’s sound and formation, and that letter naming is a powerful predictor of future reading.

To get the best of both worlds, so to speak, consider teaching a letter’s sound and its name at the same time.