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Have you ever thought about how the “or” in “word” doesn’t sound like an “or”?

In this video, I talk about one of my favorite spelling patterns. The reason I like it so much is that it covers a set of words that many people feel are spelling exceptions… but they aren’t! They’re just following a pattern at a slightly higher order.

In Phonics Friday #12, I talked about silent letters. One thing I didn’t go over was the ubiquitous “gh” pattern, so here it is today, along with a few other silent G words. Since the spelling/phonics rule is so simple, the bigger focus is getting your students to internalize it and start using it actively. If you can do that, it will stick for a very long time without review due to the many high frequency words that will remind them – night, right, eight, weigh, etc…

In this video I go over common pairs of letters in which one is silent– how to pronounce “wr”, “wh”, “rh” and “kn”. I also talk about why the tea in American convenience stores is so bad.

Words with “gh” will come in a future Phonics Friday.
Long vowel spellings such as “when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking” were covered in Phonics Friday #1 – Long vowels.

There are two common ways “ow” is pronounced in words? Sometimes it’s like an “ou” sound as in “town” and other times it’s a long O sound as in “low”. Can you think of any pattern that could help students guess at the pronunciation in words they haven’t learned yet? There is no rule that works 100% of the time, but there is a pattern that holds for over 90% of the time!

Have a look at these words:

cow know shower throw pillow
tow town escrow elbow bestow

I intentionally put an exception to the pattern in there to throw you off! Can you still spot the pattern?

What is a spaced repetition system? What is it useful for? What are its limitations for use in language learning? See this two minute video.

Y is an inscrutable letter. It can be a vowel or a consonant. Its pronunciation changes radically based on where it is in a word. Last time, I covered the pronunciation of a vowel plus Y at the end of a word. I didn’t tell you how to pronounce a Y in the middle of a word, though. And what about just a Y at the end of a word, with no vowel in front of it? How do you know when a Y has a long E sound as in “lofty” and when a Y has a long I sound as in “sky”?

And no, I was not under the influence of any controlled substances. Sometimes sleep deprivation makes life fun!

I cover the spelling patterns for words with vowel sounds at the end. Many of them are built using a vowel plus a “y” at the end. They’re pretty straight forward and most students don’t have a very hard time with them.

Oh and happy Thanksgiving weekend!

In this video, I go over the pronunciation pattern for words that contain “all” or “alk”. It’s pretty straight forward and even native English speakers are usually aware how these words work.

The one possible issue is that the North American pronunciation of these syllables are in the process of a shift. In my opinion, the best way to go is to get your students to learn your own accent first. If they are successful, it will be easier to hear and imitate others in the future.

Mentioned in this video:
The Cot-Caught Merger

In this video, I talk about how to help students differentiate sounds that are very difficult for them to hear– the “ng” or “nk” sounds. The general idea applies to anything in phonics your students struggle to hear.

Example pairs:

ran vs rang
king vs keen
wrong vs Ron
sun vs sung

The basic tactics are drawing pictures and explaining where their tongue, etc. should be, using minimal pairs, and most importantly, delaying speaking activities until after a lot of listening activities have been completed!

Do you know the three ways to pronounce “ed”? How can you help your students figure out which words are pronounced with which?

Have a look at these words:
walked, used, hated, loved, coughed, stopped, hugged, loaded

Do you see a pattern that you can use to tell how to pronounce the ending “ed”? This video goes over that pronunciation pattern, and then it goes on to cover a very similar one for words that end in “s”. Finally I talk a bit about my language learning experiences and about using L1 in the classroom.