The rules of all languages are found in the sounds of the language, not on the written page. Only five-percent of the world's languages have developed writing systems. In any language, there is an imperfect connection between sounds and the way that the sounds might be written. Linguists notate the sounds of human languages through an alphabet known as the IPA, or International Phonetic Alphabet, developed specifically to notate all possible human sounds.
American English consonant and vowel sounds are presented in this website. These sounds, or phonemes, are clearly distinguished from the written alphabet because they are enclosed between backslashes, /---/.
You are already familiar with a number of IPA symbols
/p/, /b/, /m/, /f/, /v/, /t/, /d/, /n/, /l/, /r/ /s/, /z/, /w/ and /k/
as in pay, bay, may, fine, vine, tie, die, no, low, row, so, zone, wet, and key.
In addition, there are other symbols which may appear strange to you, but it's not difficult to learn them.