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Teaching Vowel Sounds: How To Begin

Order of Instruction:

  1. At this point students should have an understanding of how to count the number of syllables in a word, so write a two-syllable word on the board...

         for example:re|take. - [I like retake because it has 2 long vowels in it.]

    ...and ask them to I.D. the syllables [draw the line and number them].

  2. Next, ask students which sounds they hear the loudest when you say "retake", elicit some guesses. If none are forthcoming, say "e - a" as you point to each syllable. This is a good way to introduce the fact that syllable are made of vowel sounds.

    Begin with the long vowels:

  3. Write [a] and [e] on the board [one above the other]...




    ...and ask students what other vowel sounds they know

  4. Add only the long vowels to the list: [i], [o], [u].

    *I draw a bar above each vowel sound to show it's a long vowel.

  5. Beginning with the long [a], ask students to give you some one-syllable words that have a long [a] sound in them. Write some of them next to the [a] on your list.


    [a] - make, cake, ate....


    *students usually suggest variations on the same word, but that's ok to start with.

  6. At this point add a few words of your own like eight, and , great, and ask if these also have a long [a] sound. The goal here is to let them know that the spelling of the word is not important, and that they should depend on what they hear. [Because English has been heavily influenced by several other languages over the centuries, its spelling forms are somewhat random.]
  7. Next, repeat the step above for each of the five long vowel sounds.


    [a] - make, cake, ate,... eight, great,...

    [e] - meet, keep, tree,... eat, city, ski,...

    [i] - hi, night,... fly, why, eye,...

    [o] - go, show, slow,... though, sew,...

    [u] - blue, you,... zoo, new, two,...

  8. You can use silly sentences which model particular vowel sounds to reinforce these sounds if needed. Students can repeat after you, or they can say practice them with a partner as you walk around and monitor.

    ex: Kate ate a great cake at a lake.

    ex: He sees three bees in a peach tree.

    ex: Mike likes my bright bike light.

    ex: Joe shows Moe where to go.

    ex: Stu wore two new blue shoes to the zoo.

Up Next... Ideas for practices and a quiz


page last modified: September 19, 2015

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