Using a Sound Wall with MLs
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.
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.
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
Sound Wall Materials