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New to synthetic phonics?

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New to synthetic phonics?

Sound Waves Spelling 24/11/11


If you are just starting out with synthetic phonics you may have come across a few areas that you are not sure about.

Here are four key steps for getting started with Sound Waves.

1. Get to know the sounds

Once you are familiar with the 43 phonemes of Australian English you will be much more comfortable identifying, segmenting and blending sounds. All of the sounds are represented on the Sound Waves charts. Have a go at identifying the sound represented by the bold letter/s in each word below. Remember to say the word naturally, as you would if you said it in a sentence. The correct answers are provided at the bottom of the page.

  • A: glass
  • B: gentle
  • C: chef
  • D: break
  • E: gear
  • F: special
  • G: diagonal
2. Practise breaking words into sounds

Identifying all of the sounds in words is a great way to develop confidence and competence with sounds. Have a go at segmenting these words into sounds (and yes, we have included a few tricky ones just to test you out). The correct answers are provided at the bottom of the page.

  • slow
  • brick
  • funny
  • last
  • young
  • queen
  • bridge
  • music
3. Practise breaking words into graphemes

Graphemes are the letters or letter combinations that we use to represent sounds when we write words. Have a go at segmenting these words into graphemes. The correct answers are provided at the bottom of the page.

  • hammer
  • match
  • light
  • monkey
  • oyster
  • giant
  • eight
4. Don’t worry if you are not sure about the answer

Sometimes there will be more than one correct answer. Words can sometimes have more than one acceptable pronunciation.

  • In either, ei could represent ee as in bee or i as in ice-cream.

  • In family, there could be 5 sounds or 6 sounds, f/a/m/l/ee or f/a/m/uh/l/ee.

Some words can be segmented into graphemes in more than one way.

  • calm could be c/a/lm or c/al/m.

The most important thing is the discussion about the phonemes and the graphemes, and the exploration and discovery of word structure and spelling patterns.


  1. A. ar as in star;
    B. j as in jellyfish;
    C. sh as in shell;
    D. ai as in snail;
    E. eer as in deer;
    F. sh as in shell;
    G. er as in ladder

  2. slow s/l/ow; brick b/r/i/ck; funny f/u/nn/ee; last l/ar/s/t; young y/u/ng; queen k/w/ee/n; bridge b/r/i/j; music m/y/oo/s/i/k

  3. hammer h/a/mm/er; match m/a/tch; light l/igh/t; monkey m/o/n/k/ey; oyster oy/s/t/er; giant g/i/a/n/t; eight eigh/t

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