In a nutshell
Only ‘q’, ‘x’ and ‘z’ are used less frequently in English than the letter j. It is one of the easier letters for new readers as it is almost always pronounced as in the word ‘jump’. The main difficulty it presents is that some young children will write ‘j’ when they should be using ‘g’ – for example in ‘page’ or ‘George’.
Here is a great little clip from Sesame Street to introduce your child to the letter j:
If English is your child’s second language
Depending on what their first language is, your child may struggle to differentiate between the ‘j’ and ‘y’ sounds. This is most likely to be the case if you are native Spanish speakers. If this is you, you may find this podcast helpful.
In any random sample of English writing, the letter j would only be expected to appear about three times out of every thousand letters.
How do you say…?
How do you pronounce the ‘j’ in ‘Beijing’? What about in ‘Taj Mahal’? If you use the normal ‘j’ sound you are correct. However, if you (like me until I discovered this!) use the ‘ʒ’ sound (that is the ‘s’ sound in ‘pleasure’ or the ‘g’ sound in ‘genre’) you are guilty of what is called a hyperforeignism! In actual fact, the correct Chinese and Indian pronunciations of these two terms are much closer to our normal ‘j’ sound, than to ‘ʒ’.
Try saying this five times in a row as fast as you can without making a mistake. See who is better at this – you or your child!
A gentle judge judges justly.
‘I Spy’ words
‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with…’ is a great game to play to reinforce the sound that a letter makes and it can be a fun game to kill some time – for example on a long car trip.
Here is a selection of short words starting with ‘j’ for you to use:
jam, jug, jaw, jet, jar, jeans, jelly, Jell-O, jeep, jewelry, juice, junk, jacket
The Letter J Worksheets
This letter j worksheet gives your child lots of opportunities to practice writing capital J.
This letter j worksheet focuses on the lower case letter j.
This worksheet gives your child an introduction to the sound that ‘j’ makes, and also allows them to practice writing the capital and lower case letter j.
This worksheet provides a further opportunity for your child to become familiar with the letter j sound.