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Category: Phonics Grapheme-Phoneme Correspondence

 Grapheme-phoneme correspondence (GPC) refers to the association between a grapheme (a letter or cluster of letters) and its corresponding phoneme, and vice versa. It may also be called letter-sound correspondence.

Understanding this relationship enables students to read by relating graphemes to phonemes and blending phonemes together to sound out words, and to spell by breaking words into phonemes and representing each phoneme with a corresponding grapheme, with automaticity.

Learning these skills occurs largely in the context of learning about decoding and spelling of written words.

Knowledge and Skills: Grapheme-Phoneme Correspondence

Kindergarten/Grade 1
Understanding the relationship between simple and high-frequency graphemes (letters or combinations of letters) and the phonemes (units of sound) they represent
Grade 1
Understanding the relationship between simple, high-frequency, and complex graphemes (letters or combinations of letters) and the phonemes (units of sound) they represent 



Grade 2



Grade 3



Grade 4



Looks like: Kindergarten / Grade 1

  • producing the most common grapheme for each consonant sound, and the most common phoneme for each consonant grapheme, including:
  • <ch>, <ck>, <sh>
  • <th> as in thick
  • <wh>

Why is this important?

Phonics lays the foundation for reading comprehension. By learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences, students acquire the ability to decode words. Decoding allows students to read words, sentences, and eventually, texts accurately.
 To decode, students must understand the relationship between sounds and print, or grapheme-phoneme correspondence. To support efficient, effortless word reading, it is crucial that students can accurately and automatically associate graphemes with phonemes.


Digraphs should be systematically and explicitly taught, within a scope and sequence that builds from more simple to more complex concepts. Explicit instruction is characterized by direct instruction, guided practice, and purposeful individual practice, with a high degree of interaction.
Grapheme-phoneme correspondences should not be taught in isolation, but should instead be closely linked to other activities in the literacy block. Students should practice both reading and writing words containing sound-spelling links they have learned, and texts should offer students opportunities to decode words with this pattern. This careful integration encourages students to apply developing knowledge and skill to other reading and writing tasks.
Students need to be taught that some sounds are represented by combinations of letters; it is not necessarily a 1:1 relationship between sound and letter. Digraphs are different than blends; a blend is a group of adjacent consonants that each represent an individual sound, like the <spl> in ‘splash.’ A digraph is a pair of adjacent consonants that represent one sound like the <sh> in ‘cash.’
When teaching digraphs, give students plenty of practice mapping graphemes with their phonemes, potentially with Elkonin boxes. When reading words or texts, prompt students to highlight digraphs in words as a reminder that the letters spell one sound.