Letter Y Sound


The letter y sound is another sound coming at the end of most phonics and alphabet programs. This sound can be a bit tricker for students, as it is not as common as the other sounds in the English alphabet. Also, it can be a bit harder to pronounce with the correct sound, so spend more time when studying the /y/ sound and buy a good phonics book if needed!

Phonics Pronunciation of the Letter Y Sound

The letter /y/ is normally taught while pretending to eat yogurt or playing with a yo-yo, while saying the y-y-y sound. You can have fun with the students by pretending to have a yo-yo go up and down. Make this sound by putting the tip of your tongue behind the bottom front teeth, and the middle of the tongue near the roof of your mouth. The middle of the tongue should not actually touch the roof of your mouth, which make a way for the air to move through your mouth to make the /y/ sound. The /y/ sound is a voiced sound, so your vocal chords will be vibrating when you make this sound.

Practice saying the /y/ sound clearly for your students, and repeat the y-y-y for them to copy. As this is normally a harder sound for students, you can start by saying “ee-uh”, or “ee-ee-ee”, “uh-uh-uh”. After this, combine these two sounds together as “ee-uh”, and say this combination faster and blend them together. Once the students can say this together with confidence, you can put them together to make the /y/ sound.

After the students can pronounce the /y/ sound and remember it well, you can move on with the vowel variations as in ya,ya,ya, yo,yo,yo, and ye,ye,ye. While blending be sure they can say the /y/ sound on their own. Once they can say this well, introduce them the three letter CVC words for more blending.

Checkout this video for help with the letter y sound!

Visual hints

As the /y/ sound can be a bit harder for students, its important to add some visuals to help students along. You can try this technique by putting your thumb and middle finger on each side of your cheeks near your top teeth. When you say the /y/ sound, move your fingers down to show the opening of your mouth and dropping of your jaw, as if saying the /y/ sound. You can have your students do the same so that they understand how the /y/ sound is made with your mouth.

Handwriting Help with letter /y/

The /y/ letter in general it easier for students, as its only two to three lines, and the uppercase and lower case /y/ are similar. However, you should teach your students the stroke order, and that the tail is going to the left like the letters /j/ and /g/. If they are having a hard time remembering how to write this letter, go back and review the stroke order from left to right, and practicing how to write short and long straight lines. You can also review how to write the letter /v/, as writing these two letter is similar in nature, and students may feel more comfortable with writing the letter /v/. 

Activity hints

You can have a fun activity with the letter /y/ and some yummy or yucky things. Print out some flashcards with some pictures of yummy or yucky things, like candy or mud. Show the pictures to your students and have them say if the things are either yummy or yucky! This activity can be a lot of fun for students, and very good practice when saying the /y/ sound. It’s also a good activity for learning target vocabulary words in your lesson.

Letter /Y/ Blending

The letter /y/ can be tricker for students to pronounce, especially for the younger children. Take more time on saying the /y/ sound, and understanding how to make the sound with your mouth. If they are struggling on how to remember the sound, you can even teach them the words “yes” and “you”, which are generally easier for students to remember. They can then associate these with the /y/ sound. After the students can say the /y/ sound well, have them start to blend with the vowel variations as in ya,ya,ya, yo,yo,yo and ye,ye,ye. After the students can blend these sounds well, you can move on with the three letter CVC words as in y-e-s, y-a-m, y-a-k. Even though the  /y/ sound is not as common as the other letters, you can still find plenty of words to practice with the /y/ sound.

After the students can blend the CVC words well, it’s also important to introduce them to longer 4 letter words. By this time your student should be able to blend independently, so you can also use this time to review their understanding of blending, and any weakness they may have. Start with some easy words such as y-o-g-a, y-e-ll and y-u-ck. This will reinforce their understanding on the blending rules, and they won’t be so reliant on only the CVC patterns of words.

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

Everyday English

After the students can say the repeat the /y/ sound, introduce them more everyday words for them to practice. These words will add to their knowledge and English vocabulary!

There are many basic tastes starting with /y/ such as yucky and yummy. You can practice these words as with the flash card activity before with students.

Some foods start with the letter /y/, like yogurt and yam. You can ask students what type of yogurt they have tried before.

Letter /y/ sentence reading

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

Yes I can!

You like yams.

I like yummy yams.

A big yak.

I yell at the yak!

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 /y/ !

Letter Y tongue twisters

The letter /y/ tongue twisters can be fun to challenging and fun to say. Get ready for some /y/ tongue twisters!

Young Yolanda Yates loves yellow yoyos, yogurt and yummy yams.

Yesterday, the young yellow yak yawned

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