WordWizard: ECPC Phonics System

WordWizard: ECPC Phonics System

WordWizard uses its own phonics system, ECPC,  to represent phonemes. This is very similar to that used in many UK schools with a few differences which have been made to address particular issues.

ECPC recognises 45 phonemes in total: 22 consonant phonemes and 23 vowel phonemes. 

The consonant phonemes are:

b, ch, d, f, g, j, jh, k, l, m, n, ng, p, r, s, sh, t, th, v, w, y and z.

The letter q is not used at all.

The letter c (hard) can be used for input instead of k, as appropriate.

The phoneme jh is represented by “s” in the word “treasure”. Users of WordWizard can use sh if they are uncertain about this sound.

Within the Crux (but not the Lock) the phoneme x can be used to represent the consonant pair ks.

Some phonics systems use dth to represent the phoneme represented by “th”in the word “then” but this is not adopted in ECPC. The phoneme th covers both of the slightly different phonemes represented by “th” in the words “thick” and “then”.

Examples of the incidence of the various consonant phonemes :

b  as in “baby”;    ch  as in “church”;    d  as in “daddy”;    f  as in “fluff”;    g  as in “gag”;

h  as in “haha”;    j  as in “judge”;   jh  as in “treasure”;     k  as in “cackle”;    l  as in “lull”;    m  as in “mummy”;

n  as in “nanny”;    ng  as in “singing”;   p  as in “puppy”;    r  as in “roaring”;    s  as in “saucy”; 

sh  as in “shatter”;    t  as in “tatter”;    th  as in “that” or “thin”;    v  as in “verve”;

w  as in “wigwam”;    y  as in “yellow”;    z  as in “zebra”

Unlike most other phonics systems, ECPC restricts vowel phoneme names to  the ‘short’ vowels a, e, i, o and u and digraphs containing these vowels, such as aa and ee, thereby producing the ‘long’vowels. This removes the confusion that some people have when confonted with vowel phonemes such as ew and ey. As far as possible the long vowel phoneme names are those commonly found in conventional spellings to have the same phonetic value. For example: aa as in “haar”, ai as in “tail”, au as in “taut”, ee as in “feel”, oa as in coat, oi as in “boil”, oo as in “book”, ou as in “sound”,  ue as in “true”.

The ‘long’ vowels are:

aa, ai, au, ee, eu, ii, oa, oi, oo, ou and ue.

The most commonly found vowel in the English language, the Schwa,  has no specific representation in the written English language. It is a very short vowel sound and is effectively unvoiced.  It may be represented variously in words such as by “a” in “announce” and by “ia” in “parliament”.

Some phonics systems use er to represent the Schwa but in ECPC it is represented by an apostrophe (‘). When placed within the phonetic representation of a conventionally spelt word the apostrophe symbol does not assume an inappropriate prominence yet draws attention to its importance. An example of the use of the Schwa is in the phonetic representation of “parliament” as paal’m’nt.

Most phonics systems combine other ‘long’ vowels with the Schwa to extend the range of commonly found vowels.  WordWizard recognises the following ‘extended’ vowels:

e’, ee’, ie’, oe’, oi’, ou’ and ue’.

Any of these extended phonemes can be used for input in the Crux but only e’ and ee’ can be used when a phoneme is entered in the Lock.

The complete set of vowel phoneme names is therefore:

a, e, i, o, u, aa, ai, au, ee, eu, ii, oe, oi, oo, ou, ue, e’, ee’, ie’, oe’, oi’, ou’ and ue’.

Examples of the incidence of the various vowel phonemes :

a as in “cat”;    e as in “egg”;    i as in “tin”;    o  as in “not”;    u as in “but”;

aa as in “haar”;    ai  as in “fail”;    au as in “taut”;    ii as in “tied”;    oa as in “coat”;

oi as in “toil”;    oo as in “book” ;    ou as in “shout”;   ue as in “boom”; 

e’ as in “air”;    ee’ as in “beer”;    ii’ as in “fire”;    oe’ as in “lower”;    

oi’ as in “lawyer”;    oo’ as in “moor”;    ou’ as in “flour”

Alternative phoneme names

Many phonic systems vary slightly from the ECPC system in regard to some of the long vowels. Some users and tutors may prefer to use alternatives with which they are familiar.

The following alternatives can be used when typing phonemes without the need to make any settings in WordWizard.

ar instead of aa           or instead of au           air instead of e’          ear instead of ee’            igh instead of ii  

ire instead of ii’          our instead of ou’       ure instead of oo’ or ue’     er/ir/ur instead of eu           


The novel representation of the Schwa, in combination with the concept of the Crux and the Lock making up the structure of a word, provide important innovations which contribute to the product’s success.

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