Letter Q Sound


The letter q sound can be a bit more difficult for students, as many may not know the sound. The reason for this is that /q/ is not a very common letter used in English, and is therefore not seen and practiced by many students.

In phonics it is normally taught as a /qu/ because that is how it sounds like. With a little bit of practice and effort, your students can be saying the /q/ sound in no time!

Checkout some phonics books for more ideas on how to learn the letter q sound.

Phonics Pronunciation of the Letter Q Sound

The /q/ sound is normally taught with putting your hand together like a duck’s beak, and saying qu-qu-qu, quack! You can have fun with the students by pretending to be a duck, while practicing the /q/ sound as well. The /q/ and /qu/ are the same sound, and can usually be taught together, as English words will normally have the q & u together.

This sound is actually two sounds put together, as in the /k/ + /w/ sound. The first /k/ sound is made by putting the back of the tongue against the roof of your mouth at the back. Once your tongue is in this position, push and release air through your mouth while lowering your tongue to make the /k/ sound. To make the /w/ sound, make a puckered mouth in a tight circle, and use your vocal cords to make the sound. This sound should not involve the use of your tongue. The end result should be the blending of the /kw/ sound, or the /qu/ sound!

Once the students can pronounce and remember the /q/ sound well, you can move on with different vowel variations as in qua,qua,qua, quee,quee,quee and qui,qui,qui. The blending of these basic sounds may be hard at first, but they will serve as important when forming and blending the /qu/ words later on. Be sure they are pronouncing the sounds right as in qu-ee and not k-ee.

Watch this video on the letter Q sound!

Visual hints

As the /qu/ sound is a combination of two sounds, visuals are important to help breakdown the sound for students. As sound endings in a /w/ sound, this sound looks as if you are going to kiss someone. Make a tight circle shape with your mouth as you end with the /w/ sound. Have students copy the shape of your mouth with the ending /w/ sound. You can then combine this with /k/ for the /kw/ or /qu/ sound. This will be like a mini test on their blending skills thus far, and how well they can blend to sounds together to make one continuous sound. This test will also be useful in seeing how well they will do with other letters with two sounds, such as the letter /x/.

ABC Sound Books

Here are some ABC books to help with learning the alphabet:

ABC (Letterland Picture Books) on Amazon

letter q sound, Letter Q Sound

My First ABC on Amazon

letter q sound, Letter Q Sound

A is for Apple (Smart Kids Trace-And-Flip) on Amazon

letter q sound, Letter Q Sound

Handwriting Help with letter /Q/

As with the letter /q/, some students may struggle with mixing up this letter when writing /p/ and /q/. Parents may also have problems when teaching this letter and their differences to write them. Take time to focus on these differences for the students, so they don’t get confused.

The big differences of the /p/ and /q/ is with the stroke order, and how to teach them. With the /q/ letter, start with the /c/ shape, and then continue this up and down for the straight line. This is different than the letter /p/, as you would start with the straight line first and then with the rounded shape. You can teach the student the /c/ shape and sound first, as it comes first in the /qu/ sound, to help them remember how to write this. After that they can continue this /c/ shape up and down to make the letter /q/.

Another technique is using your hands to help with these letters. A reversal of the /b/ and /d/ letters, make two fists with your hands but have your outside wrists points towards you, with your thumbs pointing down. You can see that your left hand resembles the letter /p/ and your right hand resembles the letter /q/. Use this hand technique to show the /p/ shape (/p/ comes before /q/ in the alphabet) and the /q/ shape. These strategies may be useful for students who are confused or first learning these letters as a secondary or foreign language.

Activity hints

Students normally like the mimic the /qu/ sound as with the duck sound, so you can expand on this. Use your two hands as in the shape of the duck’s beak, and make the quack sound! You can use flashcards to introduce words with and without the /q/ sound, and have students quaaaack when they see a words with /q/.

You can also talk about different sounds with flashcards, and say if it is “quiet” or “loud” sound. 

A kitty sleeping? “Quiet”. Mommy and daddy snoring? “Loud!”. This will also allow students to learn the word for “quiet”, which will always be useful in a classroom setting.

Letter /Q/ Blending

The letter /Q/ sound can be a bit tricker for students, as its two sounds combined together, and is not as common as the other letters. For students who find difficulties with this sound, take more time to practice the techniques on how this sound is made. You can break down the sound into the /k/ and /w/ parts, and even blends these together to help say this sound. After the students can say and blend this sound well, move on with the vowels variations as in qua,qua,qua, quee,quee,quee and qui,qui,qui. Take more time to practice these sounds, as it may be hard to blend these initial sounds for students at first.

After the students can blend these wounds well, you can introduce the /q/ words to them such as qu-ee-n, qu-i-t, qu-a-ck. This will also be a good start for them to see two letters combined for a sound as in /qu/, as they will see this later for sounds such as /sh/, /ch/, /th/, /ai/, and so on.

Everyday English

Once students can say and blend the /Qu/ sound well, and they have spent enough time reviewing this sound, you can move on with some everyday words. As the /q/ sound is not a common letter in English and phonics, you may introduce only a few words for them to use.

The most common /q/ words for students are queen, quack and quiet. You can calm everyone down in class with a “shhhhhh, quiet” or quack like a duck in the classroom.

There are some other student related words as in quiz, question and quit. You teach students to raise their hand if they have a question. This will be useful for classroom manners.

Letter /q/ sentence reading

After learning how to say and blend words with the letter /q/, 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 you can read together with the students.

A queen.

A duck can quack.

Be quiet!

I will not quit.

I am very quick.

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 /q/ !

Letter Q tongue twisters

The letter /q/ can be a fun and challenging letter for tongue twisters. Get ready for some hard /q/ sentences!

Quick kiss. Quickerer kiss. Quickest kiss.

The queen kept asking quick questions.

The queen quit working on the quiz questions on quotes.

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