Vowels and Consonants: G, K, and C

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Traditionally, /g/ and /k/ have been taught together as they are consonant pairs. In this pair, /g/ is a voiced consonant while /k/ is not. We have included the letter “C” here as generally the letter “C” also makes the /k/ sound. There are exceptions, which we will get into in future lessons. However, while your child is learning the basic alphabet, all they need to know is that the letter “C” and “K” make the same sound.

If you need more help, take a look at our Vowels and Consonants Home Page to look at more articles and lessons.

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Velar Consonants

So far we have learned about bilabial and alveolar consonants. Today we will learn about “Velar Consonants“. Velar consonants make their sound by having the back of the tongue make contact with the soft palate located at the back of the roof of your mouth. If you are unsure of where those are, take a look here to see a labeled diagram of a mouth. The letters “G”, “K”, and “C” all are considered velar consonants in English pronunciation.

How to Pronounce G

The /g/ sound is closely related to our /c/ and /k/ sound, as they both share the same mouth position. We make this sound by touching the back of our tongue to the back of our soft palate, this should cut off all airflow. Begin to create pressure with some air, and then release the seal by relaxing your tongue to make the guttural /g/ sound. Remember that /g/ is voiced, so your vocal cords should be vibrating when you puff out the air. 

Teacher’s Tip: In some cases, the letter “G” does not make a /g/ sound, and instead makes a /j/ sound (as in gem or gym). For children just starting to learn English pronunciation, I think it is better to not confuse them, but if you would like to learn more about when “G” makes a /j/ sound, you can take a look at this great post.

The IPA symbol for /g/ is g.

Common words with g:

  1. Green
  2. Grape
  3. Gorilla
  4. Go
  5. Fog
  6. Leg

How to Pronounce K

Most children do not have any trouble learning how to pronounce the /k/ sound, and if your child has already mastered the /g/ sound, then this should really be no problem. The mouth position should be the same. Start by cutting off the airflow by pushing the back of your tongue into your soft palate. Then, release in a puff of air. The /k/ sound is unvoiced, so do not activate your vocal cords.

The IPA symbol for /k/ is k.

Common words with /k/:

  1. Kangaroo
  2. Kick
  3. Skin
  4. Kind
  5. Kite

How to Pronounce C

The letter “C” is a bit of a funny letter as it has two main phonemes (sounds), but both are already made by other letters! The first, and most common, sound that the letter “C” makes is the /k/ sound you here with the letter “K”. This is called the hard “C”. In many words “C” and “K” are paired together to make one single /k/ sound (ex. lick). If you want to learn how to make this sound, we have laid out instructions above for how to make a /k/ sound.

The second sound that a “C” makes is the same as the letter “S”, the /s/ sound. This kind of “C” is often referred to as a soft “C”. This is made when “C” is paired with “E” as in “ice” or “nice”. For young learners just starting with the alphabet, it is probably better to leave this phonics lesson for later, and to just stick with the /k/ sound when it comes to the letter “C”.

The IPA symbol for /c/ is k. 

Common words with /c/:

  1. Cat
  2. Car
  3. Can
  4. Call
  5. Cool
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Other Vowel and Consonant Lessons That You Might Like

Click here to download our free vowels and consonants flashcards.
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How to Teach Your Child Vowels and Consonants

  1. Print out our flashcards or make your own. You want to make sure the flashcard has the letter on one side and a picture on the other for your child to associate with the sound.
  2. Teach the name of the letter and the sound that that letter makes to your child. If you do not feel confident in making the sound correctly yourself, you can use the videos we have provided in our Member’s Section.
  3. Teach your child the word that is associated with this letter ( A is for apple, /a/ /a/ apple). If possible, have them draw the word it is associated with.
  4. If your child is old enough, teach them how to write the letter (both the small and big version). Make sure to emphasize the name and the sound that the letter makes while your child is writing.
  5. Verify with a teacher or native English speaker that your child is making the sound correctly

After Your Child Has Learned This Sound

Once you know your child is making the sounds correctly, you should look to practice phonics as much as possible. Basic phonics are incredibly important, and getting this right now will help your child in the future. Remember that the more one-on-one practice time you can give your children, the better they will be in their English pronunciation. It also does not need to be textbooks and flashcards memorization, here is a list of fun activities you can do to practice with your children. No one knows your child better than you, make English time more fun by pairing it with activities they like to do. Anything from coloring, reading, or more active games will be helpful if they are practicing and thinking about the sounds and letters.

Practicing should continue for a while, but when you want to teach something new, you can begin to look at a different phonics lesson. Links for all of these can be found above. As well, you can check their progress on their English pronunciation with some of our assessment quizzes in our Member’s Section.

I Have More Questions

If you have any more questions about this phonics lesson, practicing these sounds, or where to go from here, we have a couple of resources for you here at The Learner’s Nook.

  1. Here is a glossary of terms we use in these guides which may help clear up some confusion.
  2. Here is a diagram of a mouth with labels if you do not understand which part of the mouth should be moving.
  3. Here you can see a general overview of how to teach phonics to your ESL children which may be what you are looking for.
  4. Join our members club to book some time with us to ask us your questions.

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