Sequence of Phonics Instruction – Part III
Phonics relies on letter-sound relationships to teach children to identify words. When teaching phonics a methodical and explicit approach is recommended, begin with the easier relationships and then gradually progress to the more complex letter-sound relationships.
For more information about phonics, please see these two previous post: Sequence of Phonics Instruction – Part I, addressed consonants, short vowels and word families, e.g. VC and CVC (“C” represents consonants while “V” represents vowels), and Sequence of Phonics Instruction – Part II, addressed digraphs, blends and more word families, e.g., CVCC, CCVC and CCVCC. This post will focuses on a few of the relationships that exist among vowels. The English language contains over fifteen vowel sounds. Every word (actually every syllable) needs a vowel – they are a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y.
Long Vowel (Final “e” rule)
Introduce one syllable words with the final or silent e (CVCe). Typically when you find the letter “e” at the end of a word, it is silent and the preceding vowel represents its long sound (as opposed to short sound).
Short Vowel Sound Long Vowel Sound tap tape Tim time hop hope cut cute
We like to refer to this as the magical “e” rule which states: if the “e” sits at the end of a word, it tells the preceding vowel to say its name.
| || |
The magic “e” rule applies to CVCe structured words. However, like most things in life there are exceptions, e.g. come, one, there, eye & done. In addition, words with the following endings do not follow the above rule:
- Words ending in -le, e.g., apple, bubble & circle (note: these words are NOT one syllable words),
- Words ending in -ce, e.g., chance, voice & force,
- Words ending in -se, e.g., coarse, horse & mouse,
- Words ending in -re, e.g., pure & more, and
- Words ending in -ve, e.g., live, dove, curve & have.
Long Vowel Digraphs (Vowel Teams)
The vowel team rule states, when two vowels go walking, the first does the talking – the first vowel says it name (long vowel sound) and the second vowel is silent.
Similarly, combining the letters “o” and “w” also make the long o sound, e.g. tow and blow. In addition, the letters “e” and “w” make the long u sound, e.g. new and grew.
Irregular Vowel Teams
The following vowel teams are exceptions to the above rule.
It is important to point out that the combination of the letters “e” and “a” produce both a long and short e sound as noted below:
- Short e – e.g., dead, head, lead, spread & thread
- Long e – e.g., bead, lead, knead & plead.
Of course, I also must highlight that the word “read”, like work word “lead” above, produces both the short and long e sounds depending on how the word is used.
Now it truly makes sense why it takes a child a few years to obtain a solid foundation of letter-sound relationships when learning to read. Please be on the lookout for our next post which will discuss the remaining relationships that exist among vowels.