What is the Difference between a Diphthong and a Digraph?

Posted on Sunday, September 27th, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Once there was a little girl named Candy. 
true story is a typical story involving “a struggle” which gave way to “a happy ending.”

Aren’t those exactly the types of TRUE STORIES we all love to hear?

Candy’s struggle involved learning to read.  She was initially taught to read using a look/say, whole-word method that produced reading inconsistencies, embarrassment, and fear in her life. 

Candy’s happy ending occurred when she became a “bad enough” reader to qualify for a special program that taught reading using a systematic 4WAY Phonics approach.

One of the things that little Candy learned in her phonics training was the difference between a digraph and a diphthong.  This difference seems difficult to grasp for many students and teachers, but it doesn’t have to be.  As Candy learned through her daily phonics training, diphthongs and digraphs are learned one step at a time throughout a systematic phonics program.

However, in a nutshell, here’s the difference between a diphthong and digraph.  

Digraphs can be of two kinds:  consonant digraphs and vowel digraphs

A digraph is two letters together that make just one sound.

Examples of consonant digraphs are: ch, sh, and ck.
Examples of
vowel digraphs are: ea in teach, aw in paw, eo in people, io in region.

Diphthongs are of only one kind: vowel-sound diphthongs.
A diphthong is a vowel sound produced when the tongue moves or glides from one vowel sound toward another vowel sound in the same syllable.

Examples of diphthongs are:  oy in boy, ea in created, io in Pinocchio

Note:  Even though oy is made up a vowel and a consonant, it is a diphthong because diphthongs are only defined as gliding vowel “sounds.”

The word Audience is a unique example of both a digraph and diphthong within the same word.
Example of a digraph is Au in Audience
Example of a diphthong is ie in Audience

Diphthongs and digraphs are just two of the elements that make up a strong, systematic phonics program.  Because she gained the knowledge of consonants, vowels, digraphs, blends, and diphthongs in an orderly fashion, Candy was able to go on to become a solid reader capable of reading every word on every page. 

Check it out!  Your child could learn to read just like Candy! 

Sincerely,  Carol Kay, President

Candy 4WAY Phonics 

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