Phonemes, Graphemes and Letters: The Word Burger
What is the difference between phonemes, graphemes and letters? A hamburger analogy can help! Feel free to share this infographic by using the share buttons on the left of this page. You can also download it here. We hope it is useful!
Phonemes are speech sounds made by the mouth, like the /p/ sound in /spoon/. Understanding that phonemes are the building blocks of spoken words is called phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the most powerful predictor of future reading ability in young children, and can be assessed by a speech and language pathologist.
Most Common English Phonemes (% of all speech):
GRAPHEMES are individual letters and groups of letters that represent single phonemes, like the “s” and the “oo” in “spoon”. Understanding how letters are used to encode speech sounds in written language is crucial in learning to decode unfamiliar words. Students who can decode well can teach themselves new words!
Most common English Graphemes:
LETTERS are the visual building blocks of written words. When we say the letters in a word, as in C (see) A (ay) T (tee), we are describing the way the word looks, not the way it sounds. Irregular words contain unusual relationsips between letters and phonemes (e.g. “who”), making them more difficult to read and spell.
Most Common English Letters (% of dictionary words):
©2015 Bartek Rajkowski, PhD.
Data source: Fry, E. B., & Kress, J. E. (2012). The Reading Teacher’s Book Of Lists. John Wiley & Sons.