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The Phonemes of Aotearoa

"Phonemes are the parking spots for letters"

~Dr Louisa Moats

Did you know that some sounds in English are exactly the same, with the tiny difference between them being that our voice is either switched on, or switched off? Try saying /fff/ and /vvv/ – the only difference is voicing!

When we are teaching reading and spelling, as educators we need to have a solid understanding of the sound structure of the spoken language (phonology), as well as the spelling structure of the written language (orthography). 

Letters are symbols that represent sounds, and our brain stores written words in memory by anchoring <letters> onto the /sounds/ of spoken words. It’s important we are confident and accurate when we are segmenting and blending phonemes to help learners read and spell words. 

I’ve made these free posters as a reference tool to help educators and parents become familiar with all the phonemes of our spoken languages. The colour-coding matches onto the Sound Walls for Aotearoa resources:

    • Continuant (stretchy) sounds are purple.

    • Stop sounds are blue.

    • Vowels are yellow, orange and red.

Voiced sounds are indicated by a darker colour, voiceless sounds are lighter. It’s fascinating to see how the phonemes of our languages are similar and different.


If you’re new to learning about the phonemes of Aotearoa, you might find this video helpful ➔

My daughter and I made it to help teachers, parents and children become familiar with the phonemes of New Zealand English. 

We are working on a video for the speech sounds of Te Reo Māori!

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