Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondence

What is Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondence?

The term phoneme-grapheme correspondence is the matching of the sounds we say to the letters and letter combinations we use to spell the words we say.

Most Common Sounds

When children are first learning the sounds that letters make, it is helpful to introduce only the most common sounds that letters make.  This is especially true if a child is finding letter-name and letter-sound learning difficult.

In the following video, I will demonstrate the most common sounds for letters.  The most common sounds are the sounds letter make in short, one-syllable words.  Pay attention to how I try not to distort the sounds that we call “stop sounds”.

Stop sounds are the sounds of the letters like “b” and “t”.  Let’s get rid of the /uh/ at the end.  Adding that extra sound makes learning to blend sounds into words very difficult for some children.

Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondence

Scope & Sequence

If your school curriculum has a scope and sequence for phoneme-grapheme correspondences, it is best to follow that sequence.  This is because the connected text included will use those sounds in words.  So it will be helpful to keep those two pieces of content together.

There is no “best scope and sequence”.  Children all learn their letters and sounds in a unique sequence anyway.

While there isn’t a “best sequence”, there is some agreement on an order of difficulty.

Order of Difficulty

Letters that have letter names that include the sound at the beginning are easier for students than letter names that contain the sound at the end.  For example “b” says /b/ is easier than “s” says /s/ because the name “s” sounds like /es/.  Can you hear that if you say it out loud?

Then there are some letters where the letter name does not contain the sound at all!  Like the letter “h”.

Many other factors can make letter-sound learning difficult.  These are just a few examples.

Blends are usually up next in a scope and sequence.  Beginning blends are easier than ending blends.  So the word “flag” is going to appear before the word “left”.

Digraphs usually follow blends.  You will probably find “sh” and “th” before “ph” because they are much more useful and occur more frequently than “ph”.

The next pattern may be words with a vowel-consonant-silent e pattern (VCe).  Those long vowel patterns are easier than vowel teams or vowel pairs like “ai” and “oa”, for example.

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive explanation of a scope and sequence.  It is just meant to give you some background and explanation into what goes into creating a quality scope and sequence.

It is just important to understand that not all graphemes are of equal difficulty!

Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondence Memorization

There is no way around memorizing the letters, sounds, and letter combinations.  The squiggly lines we call letters are arbitrary.  There is no meaning to them.  Ask any kid that is trying to learn them!

Some children easily learn letter sounds. Some children require much more practice.

The path to mastery is repeated practice.

Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondence Direct and Explicit Instruction

Many children pick up new letters and letter sounds without being directly taught.

However, the problem is that many, if not most students, need direct and explicit instruction.

It isn’t enough to put flashcards in front of kids and tell them to memorize letters and letter- sounds.

Direct and explicit instruction involves modeling, leading, and testing.

In the video below, I will demonstrate the introduction to the /m/ sound.  This lesson format is taken from the Teaching Struggling and At-Risk Reading:  A Direct Instruction Approach by Carnine, Silbert, Kame’enui, Tarver, and Jungjohann.

Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondence Practice

So, how do students practice phoneme-grapheme correspondence to get to mastery?

Flashcard practice is appropriate if kept to a minimum and kept engaging for students.

The methods I have found most successful I borrowed from a sight word intervention from Intervention Central.  I substitute the graphemes for the sight words.  The article is:  How To: Build Sight-Word Vocabulary: 4 Methods. Click on the title to go to the article.

It is helpful to keep the number of graphemes to 5-10 depending on your student.  There should always be mostly known graphemes with one or two new or partially known graphemes.

Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondence Practice – Digital Version


Old fashioned note cards work great for phoneme-grapheme correspondence practice.

Sometimes, I have a hard time keeping track of all those notecards!  More often than not, the set I send home with students doesn’t come back the next day for practice.  So, I decided to send one set home and keep an organized digital set for school.

This has recently come in handy for online learning as well!

I can mix and match the slides in these Google Slides presentations to make custom presentations for each child

The sets are easy to make, easy to edit, and easy to keep track of in Google Drive.  I keep a folder in Google Drive for each student or each small group of students.

If you are interested in a done-for-you set of Google Slides, then check out the resource below from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  The gallery above is the Vowel Only set.

Sets Included:


Vowel only



R-controlled vowels

Vowel spellings

You will get access to the sets as created.  You will also be able to copy and paste slides to create your own custom sets.

Share the Joy of Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondence Learning and Practice

Share the joy of teaching and learning to read!  If you like this post, share it with a friend.  Find more beginning reading resources, early literacy resources, and information throughout my blog and website.

I am on a mission to help as many students learn to read as I possibly can.  The best way to do this is to help as many parents and educators that teach reading as possible.

I only post teaching and learning information that is research-proven.  I fully support and believe in the science of reading.

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Dr. Jenelle Strecker teaches beginning reading

Hi, I'm Jenelle!

I help K-3 teachers teach with the science of reading so that all of their students learn to read.

Learn more about me and how I can help you here.  

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