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Part 3 – Guidance linked to vowel patterns

There are explanations and rules linked to the vowels, which help the children with their spelling. Several are dealt with in this section.

Part 3: Guidance linked to vowel patterns

 

Influence of ‹w› on the vowel sound

 

The letter ‹w› has a strange effect on three of the vowel sounds that come directly after it [demonstration].

 

  • ‹wa›: Rather than the short vowel sound /a/, the ‹a› very often has an /o/ sound when it follows ‹w›, as in was, want, wasp, swan, watch, wander, wand, wallet, swallow, wash and waffle.
  • ‹wor›: Rather than the usual /or/ sound, ‹or› has an /er/ sound after the letter ‹w›, as in word, work, worm, world, worse, worth, worst and worship.
  • ‹war›: Rather than the usual /ar/ sound, ‹ar› has an /or/ sound when it follows ‹w›, as in war, warn, warm, ward and wardrobe.

 

Interestingly, ‹qu› has the same effect on ‹a› and ‹ar. For example, in squash, quarrel, squadron, quality, quarry, quantity, quad, quandary and quash, the letter ‹a› has an /o/ sound. Similarly, in quart, quartz and quarter, the ‹ar› has an /or/ sound. This is because ‹qu› is actually two sounds – /kw/ – and so the vowels ‹a› and ‹ar› are affected in the same way as before.

 

It makes it easier for the children to master these so-called rules when they are shown the groups of words that follow these patterns.

 

Rules linked to the vowels

 

A statement like ‘rules linked to the vowels’ should come with a warning. Nearly every rule linked to the vowels has some exceptions. Therefore it is only worth mentioning the most robust ones and then learning the exceptions. Here are some of them:

 

  • ‹ck› rule: As explained in Step 4 (Helpful Hint 3), when a /k/ sound comes at the end of a short word with a short vowel, it is spelt ‹ck›, as in back, neck, lick, lock and luck [examples of other words are also shown]. The word trek is an exception. If the word has two or more syllables then it usually ends in ‹c›, as in panic, picnic, magic, mimic, traffic and frolic. Interestingly, if these words have the suffix ‹ed› or ‹ing› added to them, the ‹k› comes back, as in panicked, panicking,

 

  • Doubling rule for ‹f, l, s, z›: A short word which has a short vowel and ends in ‹f›, ‹l›, ‹s› or ‹z› has that last letter doubled, as in cliff, bell, loss and buzz. There are a few exceptions that will need to be learnt, such as if, as, of, bus, gas, yes, plus, nil and pal.

 

  • Doubling rule linked to /ool/:
  • Words of more than one syllable that end in ‹al›, ‹el›, ‹il›, ‹ol› or ‹ul›, all end in the same sound, /ool/, which is a schwa sound followed by /l/. If you read out the words sandal, travel, pupil, symbol and awful and listen carefully, you will hear how the vowel sound is swallowed and becomes a schwa. Now, the sound of the letter ‹l› at the beginning of a word, such as lamp, is different. There is no schwa in front of it, yet the most common spelling of /ool/ is ‹le›. The letter ‹e› comes after the ‹l›, even though the schwa comes before the consonant. It really ought to be spelt the other way around! The ‹le› spelling is very common and there is a very useful doubling rule for when it appears in words that have two syllables.
  • The doubling rule is explained in more detail later on, but this is how it works with the ‹le› spelling of /ool/. Remember that two consonants are needed after a vowel to keep its short sound. However, in the word table, the two consonants ‹bl› do not prevent the ‹a› from having a long vowel sound. This is because the schwa, or swallowed vowel sound, in ‹le› is actually before the ‹l› and so its ‘magic’ can hop over the ‹b› and change the short vowel to a long vowel. The same is true of the word title. It is for this reason that we double the consonant in middle, so that the short vowel /i/ does not change. This rule is mostly reliable but has two exceptions, treble and triple, so these spellings need to be learnt. The rule may seem complicated, but young children can understand it if they are told that the ‹l› does not usually count as part of the wall: another consonant is needed to stop the magic getting over the wall and changing the short vowel to a long vowel.

 

Spelling patterns linked to the short vowel

 

It helps the children if the following patterns are chanted and sometimes dictated:

 

‹ck›

 

/-ack/          /-eck/           /-ick/           /-ock/          /-uck/

black           neck            sick            clock           duck

 

    ‹tch›

 

/-atch/         /-etch/         /-itch/         /-otch/         /-utch/

catch           fetch           hitch           notch          hutch

 

   ‹dge›

 

/-adge/      /-edge/       /-idge/       /-odge/       /-udge/

badge       sledge       fridge       dodge        fudge

 

   ‹stle›

 

/-astle/        /-estle/        /-istle/        /-ostle/       /-ustle/

castle         nestle        whistle        jostle         bustle

 

Soft ‹c› and soft ‹g›

 

As explained in Step 5, it is the vowels ‹e›, ‹i› and ‹y› that create soft ‹c› and soft ‹g›, changing the /c/ sound to a /s/, as in face, pencil and cycle, and the /g/ sound to a /j/ as in cage, magic and gyrate.

 

  • Part 1- Vowels and consonants

    Information is provided about consonants and vowels, starting with simple short vowels and…

  • Part 2 – Information about the vowels

    Explanations are given about the way knowledge of the vowels can help the…

  • Part 4 – Drop, swop and double

    Guidance is provided about the more complicated rules, described as ‘Drop, swop and…

  • Part 5 – Conclusion

    The advantages of synthetic phonics and knowing how the vowels work are summarized…

  • Words ending in 'y' with an /ee/ sound

    This is a useful set of words for blending practice. Care should be taken to give the children only the words that use the letter sounds that have been taught.

  • Words ending in 'y' with an /ee/ sound - print letters

    This is a useful set of words for blending practice. Care should be taken to give the children only the words that use the letter sounds that have been taught.

  • CRE Spelling Rules Booklet

    These pages can be downloaded and made into a booklet. On some printers each page has to be printed one at a time and back-to-back.

  • Words ending in 'er'.

    This is a useful set of words for blending practice. Care should be taken to give the children only the words that use the letter sounds that have been taught.

  • Words ending in 'er' - print letters

    This is a useful set of words for blending practice. Care should be taken to give the children only the words that use the letter sounds that have been taught.

  • Words ending in '-le'.

    This is a useful set of words for blending practice. Care should be taken to give the children only the words that use the letter sounds that have been taught.

  • Words ending in '-le' - print letters

    This is a useful set of words for blending practice. Care should be taken to give the children only the words that use the letter sounds that have been taught.