Letter T Sound


The letter t sound is a hard stop sound in the phonics curriculum, and it is an important consonant sound introduced to the students. This letter can be a bit easier to teach, as the shape of the letter is easier with only 2 strokes, and the sound /t/ can usually be easily copied.

This letter is also very important when beginning phonics as the /t/ letter is used in many CVC words and everyday objects that can help the students learn more basic vocabulary. Be sure to checkout these phonics books in case you need more help!

Phonics Pronunciation of the Letter T Sound

The letter /t/ should be taught as a hard t-t-t sound, and should be picked up fairly easily. You can make an action like hitting a ball with a tennis racket while saying t-t-t. The /t/ and /d/ sound are quite similar in sounds as the mouth should be in the same position. To say the /t/ sound, put the tip of your tongue just behind your teeth and push air to your teeth and release. This /t/ sound should only be from the air release, and not from your vocal cords. You can exaggerate the air coming from your teeth for your child if they are having a hard time, and mistake the /d/ sound. 

You can practice the sound slowly at first while focusing on the exaggerated t-t-t sound for the student. Once they understand and can say it well, you can move onto more sounds with vowels such as ta-ta-ta, tee-tee-tee and to-to-to. After this you can further add 3 letter words with the /t/ sound to round off their understanding of the sound and introduce more vocabulary to them.

Checkout this video to practice the letter t sound!

Visual hints

If the student is having trouble with the /t/ sound, its important to show them the sound is produced when releasing the tip of the tongue from the back of the teeth. You can use a hand motion when you do this sound to help them out. Put your thumb and pointer finger next to your mouth and tap them together when saying the /t/ sound, so your fingers tap at the same time as your tongue hits the roof of your mouth.  Have your student do the same to emphasize how this sound is made.

If your child is very young to develop strong enough tongue muscles or still has a hard time locating where to put their tongue is, you can have fun and incorporate food to help them. A good method is put a little bit of peanut butter on the ridge just behind their front teeth, and have the student touch it with their tongue. It will train them to know the right spot for the /t/ sound. Another method to help increase their muscles is ask them to hold their tongue at the spot behind their teeth for 5 seconds, and release. These 2 ways may help your student if they had a hard time at first to pronounce the /t/ sound!

Handwriting help with the letter /t/

The letter /t/ is normally easier for students to write, as it is only 2 straight lines, with the upper and lowercase letter being the same. However, if you student is still having a hard time writing straight lines, it may be because of their pencil grip or muscle development in their hands. Normally young children will have the bad pencil grip because their muscles are not strong enough and not fully developed. You can try to do some exercises to strengthen their muscles in their hands, such as paper crumpling, sponge squeezing in the shower, water spray bottles, or playing with play-doh. You can even have them practice scissor cutting under close supervision.

Young children may also just be unable to recognize straight lines well. You can draw straight by tracing a straight line with their finger or arranging items in a straight line. This together with the hand muscle exercises may help your student to write straight lines better. Eventually they will be able to draw a line and form the letter /t/.

Activity hints

The /t/ sound is an important start for sounds as it trains their tongue muscles, which will be very helpful with other English sounds. You can have a little fun by giving them a small piece of candy and having them hold the candy just behind the top of the teeth for 10 seconds.This will be not only helpful for them, but also a fun activity and they will be happy with the candy they get to eat!

Letter /t/ Blending

Like the other sounds, the /t/ sound is also important to learn as many basic English words start and end with the /t/ sound. Often many students first learn the words cat, ant, top, which of course have the /t/ sound. Once they understand and can pronounce the /t/ sound, they can move onto blending and reading words with the letter t.

You can them gradually add vowel sounds to help them such as ta, ta, ta, tee, tee, tee, to, to, to. After they can blend the /t/ sound with the vowel sounds, you can move onto the CVC blending with /t/, as there are many basic words with this, such as C-A-T, B-A-T, T-O-P, etc. Similar to the other sounds, the beginning /t/ sound is just as important as the ending /t/ sound.

After the student can blend three letter words with the /t/ sound, have them practice words ending in /t/. You can overemphasize the ending /t/ sound when blending, and make sure the words have ending with the /t/ sound. Many students may have difficulties when blending words ending in /t/, and forget or are unable to say it. In this case practice with the students that they must blend and finish the words with /t/ before they can pass and move onto the next word.

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

Everyday English

Like the other letters, the student will also need to repeat the letter /t/ until they can remember it easily. As the /t/ shape for both uppercase and lower case is similar, the students should not have a hard time in writing, unless they cannot write a straight line. If so, you can practice writing straight lines in practice books.

Here are some good ideas for words to introduce to your children to help them learn the sound /t/.

You can start with some animal names such as tiger or turtle to get the student interested in the /t/ sound.

You may also introduce food such as tomato or tuna, showing pictures of how big a tuna can be!

Many numbers have the /t/ sound, such as two or ten. More advanced learners can also practice twelve or twenty.

There are also a lot of easier objects for students, such as tree, train, teeth and TV. You may also teach them table when they sit for their classes.

Letter /t/ sentence reading

After learning how to say and blend words with the letter /t/, 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 top.

Ten tops.

I see ten cats.

Tim sees ten cats too!

A bat on top of a mat.

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 /t/ !

Letter t tongue twisters

The /t/ sound for tongue twisters can be the funnest to say. Get your teeth ready for some terrific tongue twisters.

-Two tiny tigers take two taxis to town

-Mr. Tongue twister tried to train his tongue to twist and turn, and twit and twat to teach the letter T.

-The two-twenty-two train tore through the tunnel.

-Twelve trim twin-track tapes.

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