A syllable is a word, or part of a word, with 1 vowel sound. A simple trick to help students understand and count syllables is to put your hand under your jaw. Due to the fact that each syllable has a vowel sound, your jaw will drop for each syllable in a word.
The type of syllable affects the sound the vowel(s) make(s). Here are the main types of syllables that you can teach to help with decoding and spelling.
- a syllable where a single vowel is followed by 1 or more consonant(s), the vowel will make its short sound
- e.g, cat, flip, hush, stop, stuck
- it doesn’t matter what comes before the vowel, it’s what comes after the vowel that matters
- exceptions are the wild, old words: ‘ild’ as in ‘wild’, ‘old’ as in ‘cold’, ‘olt’ as in ‘colt’, ‘ind’ as in ‘kind’
- a syllable with a single vowel at the end, the vowel will make its long sound
- e.g., go, he, my (the y acts as the vowel), or multi-syllabic words like ta-ble (‘ta’ is an open syllable)
- exceptions – to, do
Vowel – Consonant – e (Magic e)
- the vowel says its name and the ‘e’ stays silent
- e.g., cake, here, mile, home, cube
- exceptions – when the consonant is a ‘v’ (English words don’t end in ‘v’, so words like ‘give’ and ‘live’ have the ‘e’ added on for that reason – teach students to be flexible when they see ‘ve’
- other common exceptions – come/some, there/where, were
- two vowels work together to make 1 sound
- e.g, eat, street, boat, day, snow (‘y’ and ‘w’ act like vowels when they follow another vowel)
- occasionally, ‘gh’ words with a vowel to form a vowel team (-igh, augh, ough)
- when an ‘r’ follows the vowel, the ‘r’ controls the vowel sound
- e.g, ‘ar’ in far, ‘er’ in her, ‘ir’ in first and ‘ur’ in hurt
- ‘ar’ and ‘or’ are usually easy to distinguish, but ‘er’, ‘ir’ and ‘ur’ sound exactly the same
- the “consonant-le” becomes its own syllable
- e.g., table (‘ble’ is its own syllable), little (‘tle’ is its own syllable), gurgle (‘gle’ is its own syllable), etc.
Other – Stable Final syllables
It is also important to introduces ‘Stable Final Syllables’. These suffixes are stable (consistent spelling) and are only found at the end of words. Students need to be taught them as a unit to be heard and spelled.
- tion, sion, cian, ture, cial, sure, age, ition, tial, etc.,