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C for consonant, V for vowel

Average: 3.8 (44 votes)

This is an activity to be carried out before introducing phonemic symbols.

Alan Stanton

It is designed to teach students:

  • The difference between sounds and letters
  • The difference between vowel sounds and consonant sounds
  • The difference between one sound and two sounds


  1. Choose ten words that students already know. It is important that they are familiar words.
  2. Choose four or five other familiar words as examples.
  3. Demonstrate on the board that the word 'cat', for example, can be written CVC, Consonant sound, Vowel sound, Consonant sound. This is a very easy example but there are more difficult ones. 'Caught' is CVC, 'through' is CCV, 'breakfast' is CCVCCVCC, 'brother' is CCVCV, 'hour' is VV, 'carrot' is CVCVC.
  4. Ask students to do the same with the ten words you have chosen. You can ask them to do this by looking and writing, by looking, listening (to you) and writing, by listening, saying (to each other) and writing - whichever combination seems valuable and necessary.
  5. If you are not sure about a word, check the phonemic symbols in a dictionary.
  6. Check students' answers and explain any difficulties.

This activity will clarify many points for students. For example, that 'br' is two sounds but 'th' is one, final 'er' is one and 'rr' is one. It will show that 'h' is sometimes silent and sometimes not and that final 'r' is silent. Note that diphthongs count as one vowel sound. This activity is good preparation for learning phonemes because it focuses on sounds and not letters.

Language level
Language Level: 
Pre-intermediate: A2