The year was 1994, and Ace of Base was ruling the airwaves. More people were dialing-up and getting online, and questions of alphabetization, computer algorithms, and indexing were circling the globe. This was especially true of alphabetization in languages with “double letters,” like Spanish. For example, where should you put the Spanish letters Ll, Rr, and Ch in dictionaries and encyclopedias? Now that online databases and software programs were reaching critical mass, answering these questions was far from optional. Computers don’t work well with undefined variables, so the “variables of double letters” needed to be solved. How did these questions get answered? Read on to find out. (If you’re just here looking for the free Digraph Ch Spanish worksheet, feel free to skip to the download button at the end.)
History and Pronunciation
So, let’s travel back to in time again. People had long wondered where words like chocolate should get alphabetized and ordered. If Ch is its own letter, many asked, should these words go after ceviche? After cuzco? In their own section entirely? To answer this, in 1994, La Academia Real Española (RAE) made the seemingly small decision to place words that start with what was then the letter Ch in typical alphabetical order–so, somewhere after words that start with the letter “ce” (since there were no words that started with cg in that version of the dictionary). In other words, they alphabetized “ch words” as if Ch wasn’t a letter at all.
Turns out this decision was the start of a long trial-separation that eventually lead to a full, official breakup. In 2010, La Academia Real Española formally kicked Ch out of the Spanish alphabet, making Ch a digraph instead of a letter. They kicked then-letter Ll out at the same time. The English alphabet has 26 letters, and starting in 2010, the Spanish alphabet now has 27. Why one more? The most quintessential Spanish letter of all: la eñe (Ñ).
So how do you pronounce la che or dígrafo ch (also sometimes called “dígrafo ce hache”)? Most English speakers will pronounce Ch virtually the same way in Spanish and English. But, if you want some detailed practice, click the sample words below:
It’s important to note, however, that while there is a “standard Spanish” Ch sound, you may also hear a few different sounds around the Spanish-speaking world and may even want to adapt your pronunciation to your environment and needs.
What’s A Digraph?
Officially, Ch is now a digraph. But what’s a digraph? Digraphs come in two varieties: homogeneous and heterogeneous. Ch is a heterogeneous digraph, which means it contains two letters that make a new sound when combined. The new sound is not present from the original letters’ sounds. Here are some examples from English:
- ph, as in the words pharoah and cypher
- wh, as in the words who and whom
- sh, as in the words shack and hash
We’ll add a full post about digraphs soon, but in the meantime, here is the list of the five main Spanish digraphs.
Happily, English also shares the digraph ch, so you’ll notice English words that are generally pronounced the same as the Spanish digraph ch. I’m partial to the example chocolate, of course, but some other words that contain the English digraph ch are chick, chunk, lunch, and chip.
Worksheet Learning Focus
One of the key errors people make with Spanish digraphs is hypercapitalization or hypercorrection. The capital digraph is Ch, and the lowercase is ch. (You will see stylistic exceptions, mostly where journalistic style guides are accepted and in marketing.) To help students, this worksheet supplies practice with these capitalization skills and more.
- Identifying capital Ch
- Identifying lowercase ch
- Forming capital Ch
- Forming lowercase ch
- Familiarization with “Ch” vocabulary and a common infinitive
In this two-page Spanish Digraph Ch Worksheet, you’ll find PK-1st grade oriented activities involving «la che», such as practicing formation of capital letters (mayúsculas) and lowercase letters (minúsculas) and being introduced to “Ch” vocabulary. Because of the age group targeted, directions are scaffolded in English and Spanish or use English/Spanish cognates.
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Ideas for Use
Students in preschool and kindergarten will likely benefit most from this worksheet, but this free Spanish digraph Ch worksheet is great for any student who needs a little extra digraph and Spanish vocabulary practice.