Learning Minority Language Phonics – Cheeky Letters

Earlier this month, as my youngest and I continued working our way through English phonics, I came up with a simple concept that might prove useful to all of you who also are teaching your child to read and whose minority language (ml) includes letters that can be pronounced in more than one way.

As I did with my eldest, I am using the Read Write Inc method to teach my youngest to read.  But this time, I am not completely alone in that amazing but challenging task.  I have joined the “Academia Spanglish Easy”, the phonics academy launched by my lovely blogger sidekick, Raquel.  

On her phonics course, Raquel has added a stage with certain sounds that are not found in the Read Write Inc but that are worthy of a peculiar attention as the letter giving rise to that specific sound actually has more than one sound.  For instance, “TH” can be the classic “TH” sound as in “thank you” but also a sort of a zzz sound as in the word “feathers”.

My little one found that stage a bit confusing at first.  She had a very quizzical look in her eyes as she stared at me telling her about the “soft c” (as in “city”) when so far she had only learned the “hard c” (as in “caterpillar”).  

One morning,  as I quietly enjoyed my breakfast whilst the kids were still in bed, my eyes landed on the sound cards we had posted on our living room wall. And suddenly, it hit me.  I thought: how about isolating these “multi-sounds” letters for being so naughty and confusing us?  How about… sending them to the corner?!

So I got up, picked these letters that had more than 1 way of being sounded, and stuck them in a corner of the room, close by. To add to this, and help with the identification of these peculiar letters, I decided to give them a catchy name. I could not call them “tricky” as on the course we already used the term “Tricky Words” (words that do not sound as spelt). Naughty sounded a bit harsh and mischievous was too hard a word to say for a small child. “Cheeky letters” sounded just perfect. Hence, I grabbed a bright felt-tip and wrote the name on a piece of paper which I put the corner above these letters.

Cheeky Letters’ corner

Kids love identifying things that are familiar to them, such as the corner where they might be sent to for poor behaviour or time out.  And this was a big hit with my youngest.  At first, she was shocked.  But gradually, as she digested the concept, she understood what was happening and loved sending the letters to the corner!  They became her favourite letters and she could not wait to discover the day’s new sound (we learnt one new phonic a day at that stage) to find out whether she would have to send it to the corner or not! 😀

If you are currently teaching your ml phonics to your child, I hope this little idea can inspire you in finding a playful and original solution to little challenges faced on your literacy journey.


    1. Actually it didn’t it changes its sound not because it is being cheeky but because of the “magic e” at the end of the word which makes it change its sound (e.g: hate, gate, cave…). But C, S, TH and G (I might forget some from the top of my head) for instance did end up in the corner 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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