What is the Initial 
Teaching Alphabet?

The Initial Teaching Alphabet is a phonemic alphabet based on the phonemic sound system of the English language. It was designed to present the beginning reader and writer with a logical and reliable reading and writing system. The phonemic alphabet consists of 44 sound-symbols with each symbol or character representing one sound in a word. The alphabet adheres closely to traditional orthography. The symbols are lowercase. Certain conventional English spellings have been retained such as the c and k, which have the same sound.

When students understand that print is speech written down, that words are made up of speech sounds, that the symbols and the speech sounds agree, they can read anything that they understand. When they know how to form the symbols, they can write anything they can say.

As they become fluent readers and writers in i.t.a., they become aware of the conventional spellings in traditional orthography. They know that they can write one third of the words that are similar and the one third that are slightly different. The rest of the words they know they must learn to spell. They become proficient readers and writers without struggling with complex spelling patterns in the beginning stages of literacy development.