What is it?

Alphabet knowledge is being aware of the letters in the alphabet, the names of the letters, how the letters are formed in print, and the sound each letter makes. More specifically, sound-letter knowledge is the “relationship between phonology and orthography.” In other words, sound-letter knowledge encompasses the ability to understand that each letter represents a sound or that a group of letters represents a sound,knowledge of the relationship between sounds and letters in English,the ability to identity formerly-seen words and being able to decode pronunciations of unfamiliar words. Sound-letter knowledge includes the names of letters in the alphabet, along with knowledge of diphthongs, consonant and vowel digraphs, consonant blends, r-controlled vowels, long and short vowels, and onset and rime.Alphabet knowledge and sound-letter knowledge culminates into the ability to recognize words automatically. Once a student is able to make the connection between the sounds and  letters in English, he/she will begin to develop the ability to read words as one unit instead of individual sounds.

digraphs:a group of two or more letters that only make one sound. Examples of consonant digraphs are: sh, th, wh, ch, ph, wr, gh, gn, kn,ss, ck.Examples of consonant trigraphs (combination of 3 consonants that make one sound)are: dge as in dodge, igh as in right, and tch as in catch.Examples of vowel digraphs include: oo, ee, au, ai, ay, ea, oa, oe, aw.

diphthongs: a combination of 2 vowels that make a sound and a half. There are not two distinct sounds, but there is also not one sound. In other words, vowel diphthongs are when the “two letters represent a single phoneme, but the phoneme involves substantial movement of the mouth in the midst of the phoneme” (Block and Duke, 2011). Examples include: ow, as in the word cow, oi as in soil, and ou as in house.

consonant blends: a group of 2 or 3 consonants next to one another where their individual sounds are heard, but the sounds are blended together. Block and Duke describe blends as “pairs or groups of letters in which each letter is sounded, one right after the other. Unlike a digraph, the sound of each individual letter in the blend is maintained” (Block and Duke, 2011). Examples of blends include: sn, sk, gr, bl, spr, str, gl, pl.

r-controlled vowels: when the letter r proceeds one or more vowels in a word. The placement of the letter r affects the pronunciation of the vowel, often making the sound of the vowel hard to hear, especially for emergent readers.