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
Western Union Phonetic Alphabet
Tips for learning the Phonetic Alphabet
- 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.
- When you're traveling in the car, have your kids practice saying license plates using the phonetic alphabet.
- Have your kids spell out words from their spelling lists using the phonetic alphabet.
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