The sounds of English

First time here? Watch this one-minute video, then choose a level.

One-minute video

One-minute video

Why learn about the sounds of English?

English has around 40 sounds. Each can be written in several ways. As in 'f', 'ff' and 'ph'.

Quick tips for tutors

The sounds of English includes:

  • The importance of context in decoding text.
  • Strategies for recognising sound patterns, silent letters and compound words.
  • Prefixes and root words.
  • How English has 'borrowed' extensively from many other languages.


What do the levels mean?

Skillswise uses the levels of the National Qualifications Framework, which start at Entry 1, 2 and 3 and then go on to Level 1 and Level 2.

  • Entry 3 covers the basic concepts and is a good preparation for starting a Level 1 course.
  • Level 1 is roughly equivalent to a GCSE D-G grade in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, and a Foundation level at Standard Grade in Scotland. A useful qualification for many jobs.

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Help your kids read with phonics