To start with, let’s establish what we mean when we say ‘segmenting.’

Segmenting words involves breaking down a word into each of its phonemes and graphemes. A phoneme is a term that means a unit of sound, while graphemes are the groups of letters that are used to represent these sounds. For instance, the phoneme /sh/ can be written down as ‘sh,’ c’h,’ ‘si,’ or even ‘ti.’

Segmenting is a vital skill for learners during their early phonics education. By segmenting words into their different sounds, kids can see how a word is sounded and written down. This will help them develop their reading and writing skills in the long run.

What is an example of segmenting words into sounds?

The best way to understand how segmenting works is with the help of a few examples. Let’s take the word ‘cat,’ for instance.

If you segment the word orally (through speech), you’ll find that the word ‘cat’ comprises three separate phonemes: /k/, /a/, and /t/. These sounds can be represented in writing using the graphemes ‘c’, ‘a’, and ‘t.’ And just like that, you end up with the word ‘cat’ again!

Let’s look at a slightly more complex example using the word ‘bubbles.’




Once we segment this word, we’re left with five different phonemes. Once we write these with the graphemes ‘b’, ‘u,’ ‘bb,’ ‘le,’ and ‘s,’ we again end up with ‘bubbles.’

From these examples, we can see how segmenting words allows us to take a word apart, see the different sounds it’s made up of and then piece them back together. Combining sounds to form words is called blending, and in this next section, we’ll look at the relationship between blending and segmenting phonemes in phonics.

What’s the difference between blending and segmenting phonemes?

Blending and segmenting are two very different skills. As we mentioned, segmenting is about breaking a word down into phonemes while mixing combines phonemes to form words. Moreover, we could also say that blending is a more relevant skill for reading while segmenting is more relevant for writing.

However, blending and segmenting are closely related to one another and are essential parts of phonics education. By combining and segmenting phonemes, children will build their understanding of sounds in their written and spoken forms. This will help them as they work their way towards reading and writing fluency.

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