Vowels and Consonants: V and F

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“V” and “F” are our next letters, and they can be a little tricky for English learners to get right. For the letter “V”, it could be because it is not a frequently used letter or phoneme. “F” is far more common of a letter, and one that more children are familiar with, but some do still have problems with this sound because of the way we have to move our mouths to make it.

If you need any more help with vowels and consonants, check out our Vowels and Consonants Home page for lessons, flashcards, and articles.

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Labio-Dental Consonants

A Labio-Dental Consonant is a consonant formed by using both the lips and the teeth. In English, our Labio-Dental consonants are /v/ and /f/. These are formed by curling your lower lip so the top of your lower lip falls just behind your upper teeth. Your lip and teeth will then form an obstruction, which will create our sound.

How to Pronounce V

The letter “V” is a bit of a difficult letter, if only because children will see it less often than they will more common letters. Most words that start with “V” are not taught to children just starting to learn English, as they tend to be a bit longer and more complicated. Practicing /v/ with your child however is very important, and work now will pay off later. The /v/ sound is common in very important verbs like “have”, “live”, and “love”. Getting this sound right early on will help them when it comes time to expand their vocabulary.

The /v/ sound is formed by curling your lower lip behind your upper teeth. It is a voiced consonant, so be sure to activate your vocal cords. When done correctly, you should not only feel your vocal cords vibrate, but also you should feel your curled lower lip vibrate when making the /v/ sound.

Teacher’s Tip: A common problem children have is that their lip is too stiff. If the lip is not vibrating at all, it means that the bottom lip is too stiff, and the sound will not come out correctly. The top of the lower lip should be just behind the upper teeth and loose enough to vibrate.

The IPA symbol for /v/ is v.

Common letters with V:

  1. Violin
  2. Vase
  3. Vine
  4. Have

How to Pronounce F

The letter “F” makes a very quiet /f/ sound which is usually not too hard to teach children. Like /v/, you are going to bring the top of your lower lip into contact with the back of your upper teeth, and push airflow through this restriction. Unlike with /v/, /f/has no vocal cord vibration, so it should just be a quiet sound of air slipping past your lip.

Teacher’s Tip: Many people describe the /f/ sound as “fuh” with an exaggerated vowel sound after the /f/ sound. This is not correct, and it may affect your child’s English pronunciation later on.

A Note To Parent’s: The /f/ sound is not just made by the letter “F” and smart children might ask why words like “phone” make the same sound. In English, “ph” also makes the /f/ sound. If they are beginners, it may be better to not teach them this yet, and to leave this for a future phonics lesson.

The IPA symbol for /f/ is f.

Common words with /f/:

  1. Fish
  2. Fun
  3. Friend
  4. Foot
  5. After
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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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