Spelling Patterns in English
Vowel is the name given to those sounds which are formed by an articulation which does not block the flow of air. There are two kinds of vowels: lax and tense.
All vowels are voiced sounds. Lax vowels (formerly referred to as "short" vowels) are those sounds that leave the vocal cords, tongue and lips "relaxed." In English, there are six articulations which are used, each positions represents a different lax vowel. These vowels are listed in the order: high/frontal to low/glottal. Teaching them in this order (rather than alphabetical order) allows the learner to FEEL the articulation and differentiate the sounds. Note, that lax vowels are often represented by more than one alphabetic character or combination.
it's the vowels in English that make spelling difficult. As these lists illustrate there is generally more than one spelling pattern for any given vowel sound. What a learner needs to discover is the relative frequency of specific vowel patterns - some patterns occur much more frequently than others.
Tense vowels require movement of the vocal cords and other mouth parts. Except in multisyllabic words where tense vowels can be represented by a single letter (corresponding to the name of the sound), tense vowels are generally represented by more than one alphabetic character. These tense vowels are referred to as vowel clusters.
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