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How to teach your child to read using phonics and the 20 vowel sounds

Hi everyone. It’s Liz Dunoon.

Today I’m going to be showing you how to teach your child to read and spell from home using the 20 vowel sounds and how you can use this information to teach your child to read from home.

As youngsters, my three children all experienced learning difficulties and I helped them to catch up at school and have great success. As a teacher who specialises in literacy and learning difficulties, I have since helped 100’s of children to learn to read and spell from home.

Watch the video here:

What are 20 vowel sounds? Well… the vowels in the English language are the 5 letters that that are not consonants.

They are;


Before we go any further, I also want to highlight another letter of the alphabet that causes much confusion. It’s the consonant letter ‘Y’. It is very tricky because the letter ‘Y’ wants to be a vowel. In fact, it is a vowel, in many words like type and gypsy’.

The short vowel sounds:
a-” “e-” “i-” “o-” “u-

The long vowel sounds:
a—“ “e—“ “i—“ “o—“ “u—

These are the vowel combination sounds:
ew” “oo” “oy” “ar” “or” “er” “ear” ”air” “ow

We’ve also got the lazy vowels or ‘schwa vowel sound.
It sounds kind of like “uh” or “urgh

Now let me give you a word example to demonstrate each sound.

We will start with the short vowel sounds.

a-“ as in apple
e-“ as in egg
i-“ as in insect
o-“ as in orange
u-“ as in up

Now let’s move onto the long vowel sounds.

a—“ as in apricot
e—“ as in bee
i—“ as in island
o—“ as in boat
u—“ as in uniform

Now we have the vowel sound combinations – here are some words to show you how these sounds can be heard in English words:

ew” as in moon
oo” as in book
ar as in half
or” as in sauce
er” as in bird
ear” as in deer
air” as in pear
and “ow” as in cow

Lastly let me introduce you to the laziest vowel of all, the lazy vowel or schwa vowel. These are the vowels which become lazy because of the way we pronounce them.

Here are some examples. Let me use light green to show the lazy vowels.
Here is “uh” as in doctor. Is it “doc-tor” or “doc-tuh”? How do you say it?
Here is “uh” as in the. Is it “the— “ or “thuh”? How do you say it?
Here is “urgh” as in giraffe. Is it “gir-affe” or “gurgh-raffe”? How do you say it?
And lastly “urgh” as in rabbit. Is it “rab-bit” or “rabburght“?

the letter yLazy vowels cause a lot of confusion and frustration for the struggling learner. Each English accent has their own lazy vowels and we must consider them when we are helping a learner to spell new words based on the way that we say them.

So… That is the 20 vowel sounds in the English language. It is important to start by teaching your child the 26 letters of the English alphabet, but then get straight into teaching the 46 consonant and vowel sounds they can make in words. This is when you teach children to truly decode words using phonics and phonemic awareness. You can see me talking about the 26 consonant sounds here.

If you like this blog post, make sure you leave a comment below and if you’ve enjoyed the video you can subscribe to my Youtube channel by clicking on the link below.

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If you want more information on how to teach your child to read and spell and find out how to access posters with this information on it and many more educational resources to help your child catch up at school fast…. Join me on my free webinar by clicking the link below.

Click here to register for the FREE webinar

Now a question for you. Have a guess which of the vowel sounds has the most spelling variations? Leave a comment below right now.

Wishing you and your child every success.

Liz Dunoon

By |2018-11-13T02:27:12+00:00April 24th, 2017|Categories: Reading & Spelling|0 Comments

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