Letter J Sound


The letter /j/ is a bit harder of a sound for students, as it can be more challenging to pronounce and blend in words. As this sound requires the mouth and tongue to be in a certain position, it can be harder for younger students when pronouncing. It may also be harder for younger children. Take more time to focus on how the letter j sound is pronounced in English phonics and how to say the sound.

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Phonics Pronunciation

The /j/ sound is usually taught in phonics as wobbling back and forth with saying the j-j-j sound. You can also mix in the words j-j-j jelly, like a piece of jelly wobbling on a plate. The letter /j/ sound is made with the same position of the mouth as the /ch/ sound, but it is a voiced sound. A voiced sound means that the /j/ sound is made with the vibration of your vocal cords in your throat from the movement of air up into your mouth. To make the /j/ sound, put your teeth together and move the corners of your lips together to the middle of your mouth, like a pucker. The tip of your tongue should touch the top behind your front teeth as your release air through your mouth. This air will be blocked temporarily by your tongue before being released by your lips.

As this sound is a harder sound for students, it is usually developed later. So do not worry if your student cannot pronounce the sound right away, as it is challenging for most students. Just take more time to go through each step when making the sound. Repeat the /j sound as much as needed, and start slow for the student to copy the sound and shape of their mouth. After they can say the /j sound well, you can add the vowel variations to it, such as jo,jo,jo, jee,jee,jee, jay,jay,jay. After a lot of practice your student should be able to say the /j/ sound, and maybe able to blend the vowels or be ready for the three letter CVC blending.

Checkout this video on the letter j sound!

Visual hints

As the /j/ sound is harder for students to pronounce, you can focus on the fact the /j/ sound is a voice sound with your vocal cords vibrating. You should be able to feel the vibration in your neck with your hand when making this sound. Have the student feel the vibrating in your neck, or have them touch their own neck when saying the sound. 

Otherwise, you can also help them with their mouth shape by having a mirror in front of them when they say the /j/ sound. Go over how the sound is made with the positioning of your lips and mouth, so the students can remember how to make it with their mouth. This is suggested as many students can struggle to make the /j/ sound.

Handwriting Help with letter /J/

The letter /j/ is normally easier for students to write, as it is one continuous straight line with a curve at the end. However, if your student is still having a hard time writing the letter /j/, it could be because of their pencil grip or muscle development in their hand. Also outlined in the other articles, you can practice muscle development exercises in their hand such as paper crumpling or playing with play-doh. Otherwise, you can have them first trace the letter /j/ with their finger, and move on to writing the letter /j/ when they are ready.

Another problem which may occur is that the student is writing the /j/ backwards, and the tail goes to the right. Try to catch this problem early if it happens, to avoid further mistakes down the road. You can practice with your child the letter /g/ and even /y/ ( if they are more comfortable with English) to practice letters where the tail goes to the left. You can even tease them a bit, as point out a backwards /j/ looks similar to the letter /L/, so it cannot go that way. It’s not recommend to be too hard on them for these mistakes, as they are still learning the rules of the letters and sounds.

If your child still struggles with this sound, checkout some ABC books to help them out.

Activity hints

The /j/ sound can used as an active activity with jumping! You can put some cloth or placemats down on the floor, and have the students jump from cloth to cloth, while saying “jump!”. They can also practice the /j/ sound by saying j-j-j jump, and then jumping to the next cloth. This activity will be really fun for the students, and help them practice the sound at the same time.

As many students like to have sugary drinks, you can make some flashcards of the different juices, like apple juice, orange juice, grape juice, etc. The students can then say the name of them as you show them, or you can bring a bit to share with the class.

Letter /j/ Blending

The letter /j/ sound can be a bit tricky for students when blending, as it requires a certain positioning of the tongue and shape of the mouth. Take more time to practice the /j/ sound or do the helpful mouth exercises to help your student pronounce the /j/ sound. After the student is able to say the /j/ sound well, you can move on to adding vowels and blending words with /j/.

First start with the easy vowel sounds together such as saying ja,ja,ja, jo,jo,jo, jee,jee,jee. After the students can say and blend these sounds well, you can move onto the three letter CVC words such as j-a-m, j-o-g, j-e-t. As there are too as many words starting with /j/ as compared to the other consonants, its better to practice this letter so students for the students understanding. A good thing about this letter is that many words do not end with the letter /j/, so you can focus on blending and pronouncing words that start with /j/. Try to check along the way the understanding and practice of the students for this letter, to make sure they understand how to say, blend and write the letter /j/.

Checkout our Top 25 phonics books for reading letters

Everyday English

After the students can pronounce and blend words with the letter /j/, you can start to introduce more everyday words to them. Make sure they can identify the letter without much help, and pronounce it on their own, especially for the younger children. Here are some ideas to help students practice the letter /j/!

Some foods start with the letter /j/, such as jam, jelly and juice. You can get your students to practice saying and identifying all the different types of juices.

Many everyday objects start with the letter /j/, like jug, jeep and jet. Pretend to fly to the sky in a jet with the students.

You can make many combinations with the word jelly, like jelly, jelly bean and jelly fish. Wave your arms around like the arms of a jellyfish!

Letter /j/ sentence reading

After learning how to say and blend words with the letter /j/, it’s good to introduce basic sentences to the children to read. These sentences are meant to be basic for students learning the alphabet letters and phonics as their second language.

Here are some short sentences with the letter /j/ you can read together with the students.

I can jog.

A jug of jam.

Jill likes jam.

Jam and jelly.

Jill is in a jeep.

It’s important your students practice reading short sentences, so they gain the confidence and can practice their blending skills. Therefore, encourage your students to read these sentences to improve their phonics and blending with the letter /j/ !

Letter J tongue twisters

The letter /j/ tongue twisters can be fun and hard to stay! Get ready your mouth and tongue ready for these fun tongue twisters!

Joyful Janes eats jiggly Jello and jellybeans with Jimmy Jones!

Jolly Jack and joyful Jilly jumped down the jagged hill.

Jane and Jenny in blue jackets are watching the jaguar in the cage.

John Johnson joined jealous Jenny Jerry making apple-jelly.

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