The relationship between learning how to read and spell, and your child’s speech sounds

  • Did you know that there are 44 speech sounds in the English language that combine to make thousands of words, using only 26 letters?!
  • These sounds are called phonemes. The letters or groups of letters that we use to represent these speech sounds are called graphemes. Understanding the relationship between graphemes and how that can be matched to phonemes is essential for our children when learning to read.
  • Our children need a full set of sounds (44), to decode the relationship between letters, and their sounds.
  • For some children, learning, understanding and using the correct speech sounds in conversation is challenging. For example, saying ‘pish’ instead fish.

They might not be able to map sounds to the corresponding letter, as they cannot produce the sound, or do not understand how the sound is used in words. For example, I can produce the ‘k’ sound, but say ‘tat’ instead of cat.

  • Some children may require additional support from a speech pathologist to support their ability to produce or understand certain sounds. This will improve their sounds in conversation, and their ability to decode letter-sound relationships.


  • When teaching your child the alphabet, teach them the letter sounds (phonemes) that the letters names make.