Names of letters, is this right??

(62 Posts)
IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 22:17:16

DS has learnt that an 's' is a' sssss' and an 'S' is an 'Ess'. If you see what I mean.

So upper case (capital) letters are said as the name of the letter, but a lower case letter is the "sound" it makes.

This is bollocks surely?

learnandsay Thu 06-Dec-12 22:19:24

Yup, it's rubbish.

learnandsay Thu 06-Dec-12 22:20:12

You could describe the capital letter as a capital s.

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 22:21:14

Thought so.

What is the 'official' way of saying a letter? I assume that you would use the letter name when spelling and the sound when sounding out?

learnandsay Thu 06-Dec-12 22:23:27

Not necessarily. You can spell using the letter sounds too. Traditionally, or conventionally one spells using the letter names. But there's no reason why one has to. One can spell cat using cu-a-t.

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 22:25:00

But you couldn't spell ceiling with a 'cu'

No, but you learn that a 'c' can make a 's' sound later.

squeezedatbothends Thu 06-Dec-12 22:27:58

It seems odd, but the EYFS states that children should learn the names of letters - obviously they need to know that A is pronounced as /ay/ and so on as we would say them as adults. The names are what we've commonly called the alphabet and all letters have names - aitch rather than 'h' for example. This isn't the same as the sounds or the phonemes which are usually delivered as lower case letters to try to distinguish between names and sounds. So lots of schools distinguish between the name - this is 'A' and the sound that it makes is 'a'. Can't find phonetic markers on my key pad, but hope this is clear. Personally I think that's quite confusing for children, but somehow they seem to get it. Like a cat is called a cat, but it makes a miaow sound...

squeezedatbothends Thu 06-Dec-12 22:29:29

Sorry - cross posting there!

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 22:30:12

So, shouldn't they learn that 'c' is called a "see" and usually sounds like 'cu', but can be a 'see'?

Spelling and sounding out are different though aren't they. If you try to sound out 'the' with the letter sounds they learn - 'tuh- huh-eh' they won't get it.

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 22:33:19

the way letters and sounds suggests you teach this - show a horse, what is this? a horse (ie its name)
what sound does it make - neigh (ie its sound)

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 22:35:16

That's what I would have thought, the letter a can make the sounds - a, ay etc.

DS is quite insistent that A is 'Ay' and a is a (short) 'ah'.

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 22:35:20

Letter name c (see)
sound c
alternative sounds for c taught later onf
'the' is normally taught as a 'tricky' word

learnandsay Thu 06-Dec-12 22:35:38

It's funny that you say that, because I think that's the opposite of what does happen with some children. I suspect that it's some adults (like me) who have immense problems understanding spelling with letter sounds. "tuh-huh-eh" would make no sense what-so-ever to me. But my daughter would get it straight away. She would also get tee-aitch-ee.

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 22:36:02

I'd talk to his teacher and clarify this, Arses

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 22:39:39

I'm going to have to.

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 22:44:22

if one of my dc thought this I'd like to know so I could iron out the misconception. Parent feedback is really helpful. (disclaimer I am pretty sure none of them do think this)

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 22:49:37

I was reading him Dr Seuss A B C, and I was just saying the letter names, regardless of whether the letter was upper case or lower case and DS kept correcting me, so he is convinced. Gah!

learnandsay Thu 06-Dec-12 22:56:55

On the whole it probably doesn't matter that much, unless one comes to a road sign which reads:


Because, of course if one tries to read it using letter names one will fail, fall over it and die. But your son is right in the sense that most occurrences of capital letter spellings are acronyms, so SAS is not pronounces su-a-su.

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 22:58:12

it does matter
it is inaccurate

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 23:00:20

learnandsay, spelling and sounding out are two different things though aren't they, for cap and cape the last sound is a p, but you need the e to spell it.

maizieD Thu 06-Dec-12 23:00:32

DS has learnt that an 's' is a' sssss' and an 'S' is an 'Ess'. If you see what I mean.

So upper case (capital) letters are said as the name of the letter, but a lower case letter is the "sound" it makes.

Big sigh....

Why no-one thought to take the requirement to learn letter names out of the EYFS once phonics became the officail guidance is a mystery to me. They are completely unnecessary for learning to read and can cause the sort of confusion that the OP describes, especially when crazy teachers actually teach that they represent different sounds. Capital letters represent exactly the same sounds as do lower case letters; 'A' represents /a/ and /ay/ etc.

No harm in learning the alphabet names once lettter/sound correspondences are secure but as far as reading and spelling are concerned you could go through life not knowing the letter names and still be able to read and spell without any problems..

maizieD Thu 06-Dec-12 23:01:44

I'll never make a typist sad 'official'

noseynoonoo Thu 06-Dec-12 23:07:33

We always say, "This is the letter 'a' and it sounds like 'ay' - does that make sense - so there is a separation between the name of the letter and the sound of the letter.

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 23:07:53

The sound 'sh' is not made by the sounds 'sss' and 'hu', so saying 'ss' and 'hu' to spell a word with 'sh' would be inaccurate.

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 23:08:32

except it's the letter 'ay' that sounds like a!

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 23:09:56

no sh is a digraph
a_e as in your example of cape is a split digraph

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 23:10:15

But the letter 'a' can sound like 'ay' too.

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 23:11:51

too right it can! what year is ds in?
the a sound is taught to begin with and the alternative sounds later on

learnandsay Thu 06-Dec-12 23:12:22

Iwipe-me-arse, cap, cape

these are different. There is a Latin ending of ae, which one might choose to represent a digraph. If one chooses that method one might describe cape as a split digraph. (Although I would not do this for various reasons.) I would describe the final e in the word cape as a magic e. (Split digraphs are useful. There is no doubt about that. But they do not work all of the time.)

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 23:12:32

But when the child is spelling the word cape, they're being taught to say cu-ah-pu-eh

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 23:13:42

not in my class learn and say confused
it's c, split digraph a-e, (ay) p

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 23:15:12

He's in Reception.

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 23:15:30

Latin ending of ae has nothing to do with it - in any case that is pronounced ee!

learnandsay Thu 06-Dec-12 23:16:17

But where else do you see the digraph ae?

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 23:16:47

sorry, I meant Arses
I haven't come near split digraphs yet, am still on Phase 3, but would not teach it like that

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 23:17:49

split digraph
a_e pronounced ay
bake, cake, shake, mate, rate loads of 'em

LilRosiesMum Thu 06-Dec-12 23:18:07

Yes my DD learned about "a split e" (as in cape) and also they learn "sh" and "th" as a phonic that is different to t or s or h; they go through the many exceptions once they've got the hang of it. These phonic things really worked for my DD, she can read brilliantly; and now I'm seeing the magic working again on my DS (in reception). Don't know about different names for capitals or lowercase, round here they only really concentrate on the sound of the letters.

learnandsay Thu 06-Dec-12 23:19:48

That's not what I asked. I didn't ask where do you come across the split digraph. I asked where do you come across the (unsplit) digraph ae?

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 23:24:01

well nowhere in Reception learn grin - why would you?
as you say it can be a Latin ending - puellae (poo -ell- ee) or indeed be found at the beginning of words - Aesop - but this doesn't tend to form the main thurst of teaching hmm

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 23:25:00

The problem with doing things systematically at school is that they can't read things at home.
For instance we had 'Oh Floppy!' home from school, and he sounded out Floppy as 'ff-l-oh-pu-pu-yuh' because they hadn't learnt about the letter y making any other sounds.
Now they have learnt that y is yummy, so at the start of a word it's 'yuh' and at the end it's 'ee', and then we were reading one of his story books and came across the word fly. confused

So by telling them a y is yuh, they then have to relearn this several times.

I've been reading ABC by Dr. Seuss to him for two years, and he's learnt at school that c is 'cuh', so am I confusing him with the 'camel on the ceiling'?

TeamSledward Thu 06-Dec-12 23:25:03

I was told by LEA literacy consultant that "magic e" should not be taught. Split digraph a_e is the way to do it.
Arses, a child would not learn to spell cape as cu-ah-puh-eh. They would be taught that the word has three sounds/phonemes (cu-ay-puh) and these sounds are represented by four letters.

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 23:28:02

Arses the books are a whole other thread
I am embarrassed about some of the books sent home by our school in the recent past
Do chat to the teacher about your concerns. Good luck!

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 23:28:33

When do they learn about the split digraph a_e? Because until they do, the only way they can sound it out is to say each letter sound.

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 23:28:51

thrust, even
bangs head

IWipeArses Thu 06-Dec-12 23:29:09

I'll ask tomorrow.

loubielou31 Thu 06-Dec-12 23:39:21

Go and speak to your DS's teacher.
When your son wants to read a word like cape say "In this word these two letters (and point the the a-e) are the sound ay" So you sound out c ay p, cape.
The phonics method when taught well means that children learn these diagraphs really quickly when and if they are ready for it, and up until that point you just need to point out the quirks of the English language when they crop up in books.

sashh Fri 07-Dec-12 03:39:23

They did that when I was learning to read - er 1970 ish.

mirai Fri 07-Dec-12 04:04:56

What's wrong with magic e? The kids understand it and it works!

Lougle Fri 07-Dec-12 06:49:28

Magic e doesn't work all the time, though.

'There' isn't Th-ee-r-e
'care' isn't c-ay-r-e

learnandsay Fri 07-Dec-12 07:41:33

The problem with the magic e is that some times (see what I did?) it doesn't work. Some would sound like soem, (not like sum) if its magic e had worked. But the good thing about the magic e, although it's inaccurate is that it's simple for children to learn and it works often enough to be very useful. I taught my daughter split digraphs and the magic e.

I tried getting her to read the word pineapple on a drink in our supermarket and she couldn't read it. So I explained that in the word pine there was a magic e. And it was in the middle of the whole word pineapple. She looked at me for quite a while (holding up the supermarket queue) and then replied, if it's in the middle of a word then it's not a magic e.

I was silent for a while after that.

maizieD Fri 07-Dec-12 09:10:16

You'll have to start teaching her about compound word, lands wink

learnandsay Fri 07-Dec-12 09:18:18

Thanks, maizie. Yes, I'll have to put some thought into it. But I think they'll need to be compound words with an element of difficulty in them, because compound words which look naturally the way that they sound she has no trouble with. But, yes indeed.

Rudolphstolemycarrots Fri 07-Dec-12 14:05:48

We mostly call everything by the letter sound. I might then add that it is a capital version and tell DS the proper letter name possibly. I don't really see the name of the letter as important right now in R.

Rudolphstolemycarrots Fri 07-Dec-12 14:09:43

we talk about a silent 'e' sometimes - as in care

we talk about 'y' making an 'eye' or a 'yh' sound

we talk about the letter 'c' making a 'ch' and a 'sss' sound.

maizieD Fri 07-Dec-12 18:24:44

we talk about a silent 'e' sometimes - as in care

Come again? [hm]

The 'e' is part of the 'are' grapheme; which spells /air/

When does 'c' spell /ch/? (go on, confound me with some obscure word...wink )

Bunnyjo Fri 07-Dec-12 20:02:39


IWipeArses Fri 07-Dec-12 20:57:05


TeamSledward Sat 08-Dec-12 00:09:17

Rudolph, don't forget "y" can also make an "ee" sound (sticky, messy, funny)! ;)

maizieD Sat 08-Dec-12 10:31:45


A word which crops up quite frequently in children's early reading experience grin

Bunnyjo Sat 08-Dec-12 17:42:33

Nor it is an obscure word wink

Bunnyjo Sat 08-Dec-12 17:43:21

is it bloody sausage fingers grin

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