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Here's a quick word on teaching letter sounds instead of letter names, plus a Spanish alphabet flashcard freebie!

Teaching Letter Sounds vs. Letter Names in Early Phonics Instruction

If you are like me, you learned the traditional English alphabet song as soon as you could sing. The English alphabet song teaches children the names of our letters. For example:

*sing it* Aa - Bee - Cee - Dee - Ee - Eff - Jee...and so on.

I never thought much about this until I was teaching my son to read. The Kindergarten curriculum explained to me (as the parent) why this approach to teaching the alphabet is unhelpful to children.

In short...because they will then need to unlearn the letter names, and relearn the letter sounds in order to decode (read) words. This can be a frustrating and confusing process.

This curriculum introduced the English alphabet to children phonetically with a deck of alphabet flashcards and a simple song sung to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. In English it goes like this:

*singing* a-a-apple - b, b, butterfly - k, k, cat - d, d, dog - eh, eh, elephant...and so on.

It was so effective, in fact, that when I started teaching that same son to read in Spanish I used the same song with a homemade set of Spanish alphabet cards!

You can watch me sing this song in Spanish on IGTV here.

The simple act of singing through our flashcards every day taught my 5 year old his letter sounds way faster than I expected. Also, having a consistent picture to associate with each sound proved super helpful when he was working on decoding words.

I've used this simple song - in both languages - with two more kids now. My current 5yo often says under his breath "o, o, oso" or "u, u, uvas" when decoding Spanish words. And I smile every time.

AND...just this last week I FINALLY created my own set of Spanish Alphabet Flashcards! You can grab them for free here:

I pull heavily from Montessori philosophy in the younger years, so you can see that I have maintained the red vowels and blue consonants format that Montessori uses.

Once basic pre-reading skills are reached, we begin using All About Reading for English Phonics. That curriculum also uses the red/blue color coding for vowels and consonants so it's a win-win.

For Spanish phonics, I have put together my own curriculum over the years. If you want to get a taste for how I teach Spanish phonics at home, you can also download five free scripted lessons here:

I hope this post is helpful in your bilingual journey! If you use these cards, do tag me on the social medias. I love to see how families are using the resources I create.

*A quick note for those who noticed how the 'q' card has both the 'q' and the 'u' on the flashcard: the short story is that due to the Latin origins of both English and Spanish, the 'q' is never used without the 'u' (except in words borrowed from other languages). So we visually teach this letter combo (called a digraph) together from the beginning. If you want to know more about this, let me know!

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Lauren Stengele

Lauren is a 4th generation Mexican-American, and 2nd generation homeschooler. She learned Spanish as a way to reclaim her heritage, and now passes it on to her three children whom she homeschools bilingually. She started Bilingual Together to provide encouragement and resources to other bilingual homeschooling families.

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