Dear Gaila - Letter Order for Teaching Reading & Writing

June 22, 2016

Dear Gaila,


Is there a certain order you suggest to use when teaching phonics? Do you have a recommended letter order?


Thank you,

Fellow English Teacher


Dear F.E.T.,


I do have a certain letter order I think is best. I like to teach the letters pretty much in the order that I think is good for teaching letter formation.

Many people think that teaching similar shapes together confuses students. However when taught in close time intervals it is easier for the student to remember the differences in letter. They will notice that an 'h' has a higher back than the 'n', or that the 't' has a curved bottom while the 'f' has a curved top.


This is also a great place to add in some oral/visual mnemonic cues so that the students see the differences. Such as S is for Ssssnake, or 'L' is a leg with a foot, and the small 'l' is a leg without the foot. Have your students touch their leg while they do it. 


Here is a classic 'b' and 'd' trick - make a fist with each hand, creating a with your left hand and a with your right hand. Put them side by side. Now you have created a bed - which starts with a 'b' and ends with a 'd'. Just remind your students that in English we start reading from the left to right!

So what order do I use?

I like to teach reading with a fantastic series called "Beginning to Read, Write & Listen". Their order is: 

c o g a d s l i t f e h u b r n m p v w k q j x y z


You probably noticed that the order doesn't exactly follow the rule of similar letters, although it is pretty close and this order allows to build easy to read words.

However, in my 2nd year teaching class (usually 1st graders) we reinforce letter formation and teach in a different order:

c o a d g b p i l t e s f u r n h m k j v w y x z q



Happy Teaching!






Gaila has almost 40 year of experience teaching and runs A.H.A.V.A., a non-profit to promote English literacy. Would you like to ask Gaila a question? Email us at or send us a message. Look out for more Dear Gaila columns


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