Lessons in Phonics

The English language has 26 letters, not as many as some languages. We divide them into two groups, so we have 5 “vowels” and 21 “consonants”, but sometimes we use one of our consonants, the letter ‘y’ for a vowel, so then there are 6. Does that sound confusing?

If you know the famous English-teaching ‘ABC’ song then maybe you know that the last letter ‘z’ can sound two different ways, depending on what country the speaker’s English is from. Does that sound more confusing?

Also, if we use the old-school style of sounding out the five vowels – a, e, i, o ,u – they each have a long sound and a short sound. Back-in-the-day in the dictionaries they had the little marks over them to tell us which sound to use, a straight line meant long sound and a curved one meant short sound.


A straight line means long vowel A curved line means short vowel
ā Like "a" in name or day or tape ă Like "a" in cat or hand or banana
ē Like "e" in me or see or eat ĕ Like "e" in red or send or best
ī Like "i" in bite or time or like ĭ Like "i" in sit or kiss or lift
ō Like "o" in go or zero or blow ŏ Like "o" in dot or cost or long
ū Like "u" in tunes or tutor or blue ŭ Like "u" in cup or run or summer

About aajaanron

English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher by way of wanderlust and curiosity in cultural diversity. Forever learning from my students.

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