- Education and Science
Teach Your Child To Read: The Six Syllable Types in the English Language
A Great Way to Make Reading Easier
If your child stumbles through reading words with several syllables, he or she would profit greatly from learning to identify the six syllable types in English and how to separate large words into individual syllables. This article will describe the six syllable types. Another article will explain the procedure for dividing multi-syllable words into their individual syllables.
The syllable types should be taught one at a time. Proceeding to the next syllable type should not occur until the child is quickly and easily able to recognize and pronounce the syllable(s) already covered. I hope to provide future articles that will go into more detail about how to teach each kind of syllable.
Each syllable type has exceptions, but the exceptions can also be learned to be recognized. The exceptions will be covered in future articles.
What are syllables?
Before teaching the syllable types, teach the definition of a syllable:
Syllable – A syllable is a word or part of a word that has one vowel sound.
Teach your child to be able to identify how many syllables are in a word by clapping each syllable. For example: chair – 1 clap, ta/ble- 2 claps, to/ma/to – 3 claps, tel/e/vi/sion – 4 claps. Repeat this with other words until the child can easily tell you how many syllables are in a word.
It is helpful to have the student memorize the definition of a syllable before memorizing the definitions of the six syllable types.
Vowels v. Consonants
Also, before starting to teach the syllable types, make sure your child knows what vowels and consonants are. The vowels are: ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘i’, ‘o’, ‘u’ and ‘y’ at the end or the middle of a syllable. The consonants are all the other letters and ‘y’ at the beginning of a syllable.
Books for Syllable Practice
This book has chapters on how to teach each syllable type. It includes games and worksheets for practice in each syllable type.
This also has reproducible activity sheets for practice in dividing words into the syllable types.
Megawords 1 explains the syllable types and the syllable division rules. It is in a workbook format and does not have reproducible pages. It also provides plenty of practice with each syllable type. This book is not suitable for lower elementary grades.
This set includes the student workbook and the teacher's guide for Megawords 1.
The Six Syllable Types
1. Closed syllable – a closed syllable ends in a consonant and usually has one short vowel*. Examples: hat, ship, think, pet, dog, cat, doll
2. Vowel-consonant-e syllable (also called silent-e syllable) – a vowel-consonant-e syllable ends with a silent ‘e’ and usually has a long vowel sound** . The final ‘e’ is only there to signal that the vowel before it says its own name. Examples: hate, shape, time, slope, cute, spite
3. Open syllable – an open syllable ends with a vowel and usually has a long vowel sound. Examples: go, a, I, try***, go, flu, he, we, ba by (both)
4. Consonant-le syllable – a consonant-le syllable is usually found at the end of a two syllable word. It always has three letters—any consonant followed by the letters ‘l’ and ‘e.’ The ‘e’ is always silent. Examples: bat tle, lit tle, raf fle, min gle, sim ple
5. R-controlled syllable – in an r-controlled syllable the vowel is always followed by the letter ‘r’ which changes the sound of the vowel. Examples: car, bat ter, fir, col or, tur mer ic
6. Vowel digraph syllable – a vowel digraph syllable has two vowels together that make one sound. Examples: re treat, green, quaint, out, true
Wilson Reading System books are great for practicing each syllable type
This is an earlier edition of the Wilson Reader Book 1 but they are basically the same. This book covers 1 syllable closed syllable words only.
The entire Wilson Reading System ideal for students with dyslexia and other reading disabilities. Also contains how-to videos.
Book 2 continues with 1 syllable closed syllable words which contain consonant initial and final blends.
Book 3 continues with closed syllable words which have 2, 3 and 4 syllables.
Wilson books 1 - 6 in the older version which are pretty much the same as the newer version.
If you have trouble finding words of each syllable type to practice with, you can get Wilson Reading System books and workbooks on Amazon (see ads on the right in this article). Books 1(one syllable words), 2 (one syllable words with consonant blends) and 3 (multi-syllable words) are for practicing closed syllables. Book 4 introduces vowel-consonant-e syllables. Book 5 presents the open syllable. Book 6 provides practice with consonant-le syllables. Book 8 covers r-controlled syllables and Book 9 provides the reader with drill on the various vowel combinations in the vowel digraph syllable.
It would be helpful to make sound cards for your child with the letter on one side and the key words on the other side. For example, show your child the card with the side that has the letter 'a' and teach him or her to say " 'a' - apple - /ă/. They should say the name of the letter first, then the key word, then the sound. Do this for all the letters. Both the short and long sounds of the vowels are written on the back of one card but are taught separately.
* The short vowel sounds are: a – ax – /ă/, e – egg – /ĕ/, i – ink – /ĭ/, o – ox – /ŏ/, u – up – /ŭ/
** The long vowel sounds are: a – ba by – /ā/, e – me – /ē/, i – hi – /ī/, o – go – /ō/, u has two long sounds: u – cube – /ū/, u – flu – /floo/
*** ‘Y’ makes a vowel sound at the end or in the middle of a syllable. In one syllable words, it usually makes a long /ī/ sound at the end. In words of two or more syllables, it usually makes a long /ē/ sound at the end.