By Wendy Taylor
The English alphabet contains the following five vowels: A, E, I, O, U. The letter Y is also considered a vowel when it represents a vowel sound, like “fly” or “lonely.” Vowels make up a small percentage of the letters in the English alphabet; however, the list of vowel sounds that these letters can produce is much longer! Because there are so many different ways of spelling certain vowel phonemes, learning the appropriate patterns for reading and writing require much more instruction than the “sound it out” method.
For instance, take the diphthong (combination of two vowel phonemes) /aɪ/. This sound can be made using multiple different letter patterns:
So how do we begin to teach these phonological skills when there are so many letter combinations to create these sounds?
As discussed in part II, vowel sounds are a whole new ball game when it comes to reading instruction. For beginning readers, as previously explained, it’s all about initially hearing the difference between short and long vowels. Parents and educators can solidify foundational knowledge about how to distinguish short vowel sounds from long vowel sounds by incorporating repetition and movement.
To introduce short vowel sounds, students will want to practice using familiar one-syllable words with corresponding actions. Parents and/or teachers will recite and model the phrase and motion. Then adults should ask children to recite/perform it back in unison: