You are here

Sound and spelling correspondence

Average: 3.5 (80 votes)

The chart can also be used to highlight both patterns and variations in sound and spelling correspondence.

For example, as a discovery activity to help learners notice the effect of adding an 'e' to the end of a word, you could give the learners some of the words from the following list:

cap cape
mat mate
pin pine
not note
pet Pete
kit kite
sit site
win wine
hat hate
cut cute


  • Learners use the chart to help them write the phonemic transcription for each word, checking with a dictionary if necessary. The teacher then asks them to formulate a general 'rule' for the effect of adding an 'e' to the end of a word. (It makes the vowel sound 'say its name', i.e. the 'a' in 'cape' sounds like the letter A as it is said in the alphabet.)
  • It is not advisable to over-emphasise the irregularity of English spelling, given that 80% of English words do fit into regular patterns. However, speakers of languages such as Spanish, Italian or Japanese where there is a very high correspondence between sound and spelling may need to have their attention drawn to the different possibilities for pronunciation in English.
  • One way of doing this is to give them a list of known words where the same letter or combination of letters, normally a vowel or vowels, represent different sounds. Learners will have at least some idea of how these words are pronounced, and can categorise the words according to the sound represented, using the chart to help them, before holding a final class check. For example, you could give learners the following list of words including the letter a, which they categorise according to how the as are pronounced. Where the word contains more than one a with different sounds, underline which a you want them to use to make their categorisations.

    Spanish, capital, make, art, car, understand, average, banana, take, practice.

    To make the activity easier, give the students the phonemic symbols for the different possible pronunciations of e.

Language level
Language Level: 
Pre-intermediate: A2