A Phonogram is a Symbol that Represents a Sound
A phonogram is a visual symbol used to represent a speech sound in writing: t, m, oi, ch, igh, etc. Phonograms are also referred to as graphemes. They may contain only one letter or more than one letter. A phonogram, literally speaking, is a picture of a sound. Each one is a letter or combination of letters, such as m, e, tch, or ou, representing a phoneme or sound in English. Knowing the phonograms is key to learning how to decode written English.
phono + gram
phono — Greek for "sound"
gram — from Greek for a letter or something written
Together, these 75 Basic Phonograms describe 98% of English words. They are the basic building blocks of written English. A phonogram is classified as basic if it is found in a high-frequency word or if it is a commonly used spelling. Many of the basic phonograms are used in tens of thousands of words.
The spoken word cheek has three phonemes: /ch - ē - k/. This spoken word is written with three phonograms: ch-ee-k.
The spoken word, though, has two phonemes: /TH-ō/. When we write this word, we use two phonograms, th and ough, to represent these phonemes.
A Phonogram May Represent More Than One Sound
Phonograms may represent more than one sound.
Single-Letter Phonograms and Multi-Letter Phonograms
Since spoken English is made up of 44 sounds, the 26 letters of the alphabet are inadequate to describe these sounds. Multi-letter phonograms are used to represent represent sounds such as /ch/, /oi/, /igh/, and /ough/. Two, three, or four letters are put together to create multi-letter phonograms.
Phonograms Representing More Than One Phoneme
By definition, a phoneme is an isolated sound and the majority of Logic of English phonograms represent only one sound or phoneme. However, because English is complex some phonograms have been combined to simplify spelling.
Logic of English expanded the original list by adding the following phonograms: augh, bu, gu, and cei because they are found in commonly used words encountered by beginning readers. Many of these words are used repeatedly in early children's readers and are foundational vocabulary terms.
Sounds May Have More Than One Spelling
In addition to phonograms representing more than one sound, many sounds may have multiple spellings.
Why Does Logic of English Teach All of the Sounds From the Start?
Teaching all the sounds from the start gives students a complete understanding of what a phonogram can say in English words. Students are asked to memorize a phonogram's sounds as a group, in order of frequency, but are not asked to apply every sound to words when first learning how to read.
- gives students an accurate picture of the language from the very beginning.
- keeps them from feeling frustrated if they come across a word where a letter does not represent the expected sound.
- is more efficient and more effective in the long term
- is not overwhelming as long as you progress at an appropriate pace and provide lots of fun and varied phonogram practice.
- helps them know which one to try first when sounding out a new word.
It is vital to teach all the sounds of each phonogram so that students know all the sounds made by each.