In a previous blog post, I shared the five phonetic skills--strategies for determining if a vowel is long or short in a single-syllable word. What about multi-syllabic words? Where do you split the syllable in multi-syllabic words? Here are two simple decoding skills that you can use to teach students where to break syllables. Then apply the five phonetic skills to determine if the vowel is long or short in each syllable. Using the two decoding skills and five phonetic skills in combination can help students with proper pronunciation of multi-syllabic words.
Decoding Skill 1: Look for how many consonants immediately follow a vowel. If there is one consonant following the vowel, that consonant will go on to the next syllable. (Note that blends, digraphs, etc. will stay together and move together within syllables.)
Decoding Skill 2: If there are two consonants immediately following the vowel, divide between the two consonants. The first consonant will stay in the first syllable, and the second consonant will move on to the next syllable.
Then apply the five phonetic skills to determine if a vowel is long or short on the syllable level:
1) If there is one consonant after the vowel, the vowel will be short. (Examples: an, pet, big, hot, cup)
2) If two consonants follow the vowel, the vowel will be short. (Examples: ant, rent, mist, cost, crust)
3) If the vowel stands alone, the vowel is long. (Examples: me, hi, go)
4) If an E is at the end of the word and it is preceded by another vowel, the E at the end of the word is silent and the first vowel is long. Silent E makes the first vowel long. (Examples: name, Pete, fine, home, cute or dune)
5) If two vowels are adjacent (next to each other), the second vowel is silent, making the first vowel long. (Examples: main, dream, lied, road, fruit)
Information adapted from the Reading Horizons program. Used with permission.
For additional ESL teaching tips:
Click here to read about the pronunciation of -ed.
Click here to read about pronouncing plurals.
Click here to read about voiced and voiceless sounds.
Click here to read about rising and falling intonation in questions.