Phonemes and Graphemes, here is a big difference.

phonetics chart

It might be confusing that sometimes we say that we are teaching the phonemes through this table:

Phonemes and Graphemes

Which is actually the table for graphemes.?!?!?!

So I guess there is a little confusion here for parents mainly in defining the relation between the phonemic sounds in this chart and the letters that present them. Phonemes and graphemes are totally different things.

Actually, this is the actual table for phonemes:

Phonemes and Graphemes

Yes, these are the phonemes. The word phoneme means the smallest unit of sound. For example, in the word cat, there are three phonemes /c/ /ae/ /t/. Alright, but what are these symbols above. Well, these are the phonemic symbols for these sounds. So, I think to teach a kid how to read correctly we will not teach him the phonemic symbols of sounds. Rather, graphemes are the middle solution for that.

Try one of our kid’s games: spot the difference pictures printable

What are graphemes?

The letter or group of letters make a phonemic sound. So, in the end, all the phonemic symbols above can be represented by letters and that is the idea of graphemes. 

So the phonemic sounds can be turned into graphemes like:

  • /t̬ʃ/ ======> as grapheme it will be /ch/ like chair.
  • /θ/ ======> as grapheme it will be /th/ like thin.
  • /ð/ ======> as grapheme it will be /th/ like this.

and so on…..

A grapheme is an easy way to learn reading for all ages.

How to teach kids reading and writing using graphemes?

Actually, graphemes are used to teach phonics to kids. There are many approaches that are popular in all the school systems universally. One of the most successful methodologies is jolly phonics which divides sounds into phases according to the difficulty and complexity of the sound. In kids activities we have presented an inclusive approach to teach all graphemes starting form:

  • 1 letter grapheme: t, s, a
  • 2 letters grapheme: st, ch, ck
  • 3 letter graphemes: str, igh, ear
  • 4 letter graphemes: ture, ight, tion, sure

In the following article, you will find a complete teaching strategy for reading and writing for kids. I will clarify how we will teach each grapheme( letter-sound ) step by step. The articles that will teach the grapheme will contain:

  •  Illustrative videos.
  • Tracing worksheet to practice writing the letter while learning its sound.
  • Practicing activities and worksheets.
  • Interactive games made for each letter.

Phonemes and graphemes shall be taught in two different educational stages. Phonemes are only taught academically in universities and mostly when linguistics and English are the major. Otherwise, graphemes are made to facilitate learning the common sounds of the letters for younger ages and non-specialized learners of the language.

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