Orton Gillingham for All

Spelling Vowel Sounds: What Music They Make

In my last post I talked about how to spell consonants. This week, we will cover how to spell vowels.

It is important to note that when I say “spell” consonants and vowels I am talking about how letters can make more than one sound. For example, a makes a long and short sound, as in make and tack. But to spell the letter a, we can use many combinations to make the long a sound. For example, the long a sound can be spelled using the letters ai, as in rain, train, brain.

The difference that comes out of this is, if someone asks, “What does the letter i say?” You would say, ĭ as in igloo, or ī as in pike. If someone asks, “How do you spell i?” You would say, “With the letters I and y, as in pick or gym.

Here are the vowel sounds and how to spell them.

Long Vowel  Sounds

ā – a, a-e (make), ai (rain), ea (steak), ei (feign), eigh (freight), ay (hay), ey (they)

ē – e, e-e (Pete), ea (eagle), ee (bee), ei (ceiling), ie(thief), ey (monkey), y (candy)

ī – i (hi), i_e (pike), y (cry), y_e (type), igh (light), ie (pie)

ō – o (po), o_e (pole), oa (boat), oe (toe), ow (snow)

Long U makes two sounds – yoo and oo

yoo – u, u_e (cute),ew (few), ue (rescue), eu (Europe) – Tip: for long u, deciding if the word is yoo or oo,  if a word begins with c, f, or m it will be yoo rather than oo sound – examples: cube, few, mew, fuel, muse, music.

oo – u, u_e (dune), ew (grew), ue (soup), oo (food), ou (soup), ui (fruit)

Short Vowel Sounds

ă – a (apple)

ĕ – e (med), ea (bread)

ĭ – i (igloo), y (gym)

ŏ – (odd)

ŭ – u (mud), o (oven, love, come, brother ), ou (touch, young, double, tough)

oo – oo (blood), u (tulip)

Misc. Sounds

oi – oi (foil), oy (oyster)

ou – ou (noun), ow (now)

ô – a (all), au (auto), aw (saw)

ә (schwa)  – a (above), e (legend), I (unicorn) o (cotton), u (fortune), y (syringe)

Here is an exercise on how to use this spelling vowel sounds concept.

spelling vowels

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How to Spell a Consonant Sound

Often in spelling and writing the letters and their pronunciations are considered, but what I had never experienced until working with OG is how to spell a letter sound. This post is on how to spell consonant sounds. Next week, I will cover spelling vowel sounds.

There are letters that make sounds, d says “d” (dog), and there are sounds made up of letters, the sound “sh” can be made using the letters sh (shout) or ch (chef). We call that how you “spell” a sound.

This can come in handy when teaching how to spell and read. Knowing that certain letters and letter combinations make certain sounds that may not look right at first, can make a word that is foreign suddenly make sense. Once it is realized that gh can say “f” in a word like laugh or cough, spelling these word groups doesn’t seem so hard.

Here is a list of each consonant and how to spell the sounds :
“h”           h (hip)
“j”             j (jump), g (e,I,y) (gem), -ge (rage), -dge (judge), du (educate)
“l”             l (liver)
“v”            v (violin)
“b”           b (best)
“m”         m (milk), -mb (comb), -mn (column)
“sh”         sh (shower), ch (chef)
“r”            r (rest), wr (wrench), rh (rhino)
“p”           p (pest)
“f”            f (fish), ph (phone), -lf (calf), -gh (laugh)
“sk”          sc (scoot), sk (skate)
“ks”          x (box)
“n”            n (nose), gn (gnome), kn (knife)
“ŧh”          th (thimble) unvoiced
“g”            g (glue), gh (ghost), gu (guitar)
“ch”         ch (church), tch (match), tu (picture)
“kw”         qu (queen) (qu together are considered a consonant in OG)
“s”            s (scar), c (cist – e,I,y, rule), sc (science), ps (psychic)
“gz           x (box)
“k”           c (cram), k (kick), ck (kick), ch (Christmas), lk (chalk), que (antique)
“ng”         n (think, thing)
“w”           w (wing)
“d”           d (dog), -ed (bogged)
“t”            t (tick), -ed (jumped)
“z”            z (zoo), s (was)
“hw”        wh (while)
“th”          th (mother) voiced
“y”            y (yes)


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