How many graphemes are there?
For example, the phoneme /f/ has four graphemes: f (as in funny), ff (as in puff), ph (as in photo), and gh (as in laugh).
The phoneme /ī/ has five graphemes: i (as in kind), igh (as in night), i-e (as in bite), y (as in try) and ie (as in pie).
Exactly because there is no one-to-one correspondence between phonemes and graphemes, children need systematic phonics instruction in order to learn the most common phonemes for each grapheme and the most common graphemes for each phoneme. This will enable them to decode (read) and encode (spell).
Below is a chart with the most common graphemes for each phoneme that children are taught at school.
The letter t is a grapheme because it makes one sound (phoneme).
The digraph sh is a grapheme because it makes one sound.
The trigraph tch is a grapheme because it makes one sound.
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Phonics is the method that helps children build systematic connections between letters and sounds. Phonics has a better impact on children’s reading ability than any other type of reading program. It has also been shown to improve spelling, particularly among Kindergarteners and First Graders.
To find out more, read our Deep Dive into Phonics report. This report provides an easy-to-understand overview of phonics and phonemic awareness - why they are important and how they are taught in the classroom - and explains all the relevant terminology. It's perfect for sharing with colleagues, friends, and to Google Classroom!