Sounds – Further Information


Further information about the English sounds

As you will learn on this site, one of the crucial skills needed for learning to read English is the ability to hear the individual sounds. Students can have trouble hearing sounds for a number of reasons including:

  • having a temporary (e.g. blocked ears) or more serious hearing difficulty;
  • not being able to hear the sound when it’s used in words;
  • being unable to pronounce it (many students aged up to 8 years old still have trouble with a sound or two. This is immaturity, and not a major problem. I think everyone, has a few words their tongue seems to trip over!);
  • not having had anyone pronounce the sound or word VERY clearly for them;
  • being confused about the order of sounds in a word (hospital can be pronounced as hos-ti-pal; animal as am-i-nal; and asked as arksd); or
  • not having had their attention drawn to the correct mouth position for that sound.


If your child has a problem, don’t drive the child nuts by bringing attention to it every time that sound is spoken. Learning to read using a good phonics course sorts out many mispronunciations because children can SEE that the letters tell them in which order the sounds should be made.

If your child is of school age, and has significant problems, consider using online pronunciation videos made by speech therapists, or taking your child to a speech therapist.


There is no need to learn the sounds off by heart in the order I list them, and there is no advantage for your child to be able to do that – so don’t waste time on it. The important thing is to be able to hear many of the sounds, so that you and your child can understand that words are made up of separate sounds. Once a student really grasps that concept, it’s an easy thing to learn the sign (by that I mean the letter, or letter team) used to represent each sound in writing.


If you’d like to hear the English sounds spoken, watch the List of Phonemes (Sounds) video, where I say all the sounds. You could also use this video to teach your child to hear the sounds.