Young readers start reading in German using an “initial sound alphabet” – or in German: “Anlauttabelle”. Our initial sound alphabet below is completely FREE to download, print, or open in a new browser window by right-clicking on the graphic. Have fun learning to read and write in German!
Initial Sound Alphabet – Anlauttabelle – for First Year German Students
How to use the German initial sound alphabet: The foundation for learning to read begins with learning to sound out the words. Young readers start with letters – their form and shape, and sounds-to-letter correlation. Next, early readers can build syllables and words. They sound out the words, listen to the individual sounds and write the corresponding letters with the help of the initial sound alphabet.
Using the write to read method, young students practice recognising and writing letters. At the beginning, simple words and phrases are learned using the initial sound alphabet. From reading simple words children move to reading sentences and texts fluently.
It is important to illustrate initial sounds with appropriate corresponding pictures. After young readers have successfully memorised several sounds, they can start reading syllables. In this phase it is not uncommon for children to begin to “read” some unknown words on their own. The foundation stone of reading is laid!
An initial sound alphabet includes both vowels and consonants.
In the German-speaking countries, language experience is often based on student’s writing of stories that involves invented spelling. The initial sound alphabet assists young readers by picturing words that start with a specific sound. Thus, “ein Affe“ (a monkey) illustrates the initial long German vowel “A” when “eine Ampel “ (a traffic light) is used as a visual aid for the short German vowel “A”, next to the German consonant “Sch” you will find “ein Schaf “ (a sheep).
Learning to Read by Sounding Out Words
Reading is mostly analytical-synthetic, which means that children learn entire words and sound them out into singular sounds simultaneously. The corresponding sound-letter combination is taught in a certain order. First, most common initial sounds are learned. These include the vowels “e, a, u, i, o” and the consonants “l, m, p, n”.
There are different types of learn to read strategies, each focusing on a different concept. Many strategies focus on syllables as a reading aid, others place great emphasis on exciting, appealing stories. We believe that to raise an enquiring reader, it is important that students are engaged by reading books with visually appealing illustrations paired with engaging topics.
Five phases of reading in German
- Learn to recognise and differentiate sounds: Learn syllables and clap them, distinguish letter shapes and forms, find rhymes and recognise letters, differentiate between upper and lower case letters with the initial sound alphabet (Anlauttabelle).
- Combining sounds and letters into words: Individual letters build words.
- From words to sentences: Reading is trained by using first readers books, words can be combined into simple sentences.
- Learning to comprehend: Reading comprehension starts with the first syllable reading. Then students start building their own connections while reading.
- Summarise texts and comprehend: Students start analysing the texts for the first time and learn to enjoy reading books.
More Free Resources to Help You (or Your Children) Learn German
We have FREE flashcards to match the initial sound alphabet, and would love to share them with you!