Using a Sound Wall with MLs

Using a Sound Wall with MLs

Using a sound wall

A sound wall using speech lips to match the articulation of speech sounds/phonemes to the letters/graphemes that represent those sounds. Many sound walls only show the letter sound and lip pictures. Others also include the picture of a key word that has the target sound. Less frequently, teachers combine a word wall with a sound wall. In this case, the word she would go under the digraph sh, and not under s. The benefit for Multilingual Learners (MLs) is that a sound wall visually shows how to form your lips for each speech sound/phoneme. This is particularly helpful when a sound is not part of the students native language.

Setting up a Sound Wall

Some sound walls take up a large amount of space. Typically the consonants are arranged in one section and the vowels in a separate section based on how your mouth forms the sound.

You can also set up a sound wall in alphabetical order but include speech lips to help with articulation. I find this helpful for MLs if the whole school is not using sound walls. Instead of spending time teaching students a new way to find letter sounds, use alphabetical order they are familiar with from their classrooms with the speech lips.

For older ELLs, depending on their home language you might only give out the vowel page. Or have students highlight sounds that are new to focus on.

personal sound walls

If space is an issue, try using a display board or file folders to set up a portable sound wall. You can also print out student size versions. This is partially helpful for older ELLs to use as a reference.

Sound Walls and Spelling

Depending on the age, language level, and phonics knowledge of a student you can use a sound wall to show one sound and a key word, or use a sound wall as a way to help students organize the multiple ways in English to spell a sound.

spelling cards

Read More about Using Sound Walls Displaying Words

Transitioning from Word Walls to Sound Walls on Reading Rockets

Using Sound Walls in Early Elementary Classrooms on Edutopia

How to Display Words to Support ELLs

Read More about Teaching Reading to ELLs

What Does Research Tell Us About Teaching Reading to English Language Learners? on Colorin Colorado

Teaching Phonics to ELLs 

Sound Wall Materials



Using a sound wall

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