The Phonetic Alphabet

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Why would you consider teaching your children the phonetic alphabet?

How many times have you misunderstood someone when they spelled a word, a name, or a VIN or serial number over the phone? P's sounded like B's, S's sounded like X's, and so on.

To prevent confusion in situations like this, customer service agents are often trained to use a spelling alphabet to make them better understood over the phone when they have to read off a series of letters to a customer. The phonetic alphabet is also used in law enforcement, aviation, and other industries that use radio communications.

It only stands to reason that knowing a phonetic alphabet might make it that much easier for your kids to make themselves clearly understood if they find themselves in a similar situation, having to spell out a word, name, or series of letters, especially over the phone.

Choosing which Phonetic Alphabet to Teach

There are several variations of the phonetic alphabeth, among which are the official NATO phonetic alphabet and the Western Union Phonetic Alphabet. Choose the one that works best for you. If these options don't suit you, you can go here for dozens more spelling alphabets.

NATO Phonetic Alphabet

Alpha
Bravo
Charlie
Delta
Echo
Foxtrot
Golf
Hotel
India
Juliet
Kilo
Lima
Mike
November
Oscar
Papa
Quebec
Romeo
Sierra
Tango
Uniform
Victor
Whiskey
X-ray
Yankee
Zulu

Western Union Phonetic Alphabet

Adams
Boston
Chicago
Denver
Easy
Frank
George
Henry
Ida
John
King
Lincoln
Mary
New York
Ocean
Peter
Queen
Roger
Sugar
Thomas
Union
Victor
William
X-ray
Young
Zero

Tips for learning the Phonetic Alphabet

  1. Don't try to teach the entire phonetic alphabet in one sitting. Instead, take a few letters at a time and practice them with your kids. You might even like to make flashcards, with the letter on one side, and the word on the opposite side.
  2. When you're traveling in the car, have your kids practice saying license plates using the phonetic alphabet.
  3. Have your kids spell out words from their spelling lists using the phonetic alphabet.

Teaching you kids the phonetic alphabet can be enjoyable if you make it into games.

Image by Hometown Invasion Tour

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Comments

  1. Jennifer S says

    What a great travelling game! We will be on the road over teh holidays – I am gonna print out these lists and have teh kids do it for fun!

    [Reply]

    kristin Reply:

    This is so cool. It's something I've wanted to learn for years, but never got around to finding the resources to learn. Thanks!
    .-= kristin´s last blog ..A gentle reminder =-.

    [Reply]

  2. says

    I just have to tell you again how much I appreciate your blog. I don't have a lot of time to write comments (even as I do this one I have my 3 month old sitting with me) but I you have helped me with so many things I have to take the time to tell you again. I'm so glad I found you!!
    :)
    ~Shannon
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Bless your cherry pickin heart! =-.

    [Reply]

  3. says

    Great idea. So often when saying a letter the only word I can think of is the one it is in that I am trying to spell. This would be a great list for my kids and myself to learn.

    This also reminds me of an entertaining dinner conversation in our house a while back. We were thinking of all the worst words to use in these scenarios. Like "That's 'e' as in Eugene" and "That's 'p' as in pneumonia" and "That's 'a' as in antidisestablishmentarianism" :-)
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..TOS Crew review — Mathletics =-.

    [Reply]

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