'r' controlled vowels

I have been teaching ‘r’ controlled vowels to 5-6 yo for a few weeks recently and I suddenly noticed a pattern.

In two or more syllable words ‘r’ controlled endings are always ‘er’.

I’m I just over generalizing or is this something I could actually tell my kids to help them remember for spelling?

If it is ar, ir, er, or-- then that will generally be true. But if the vowel before the “r” is not one of those, like air, eer, then no.

I expect that’s what you meant, but making sure.

Also it’s the “er” sound generally in those spellings of words and for unaccented syllables (which tend to have those spellings). The sound the OP is referring to is actually the schwa+r.

I teach in a school that still does a lot of rote memorization. If the child can not spell the words in their phonics book and of a number of other books, they can not go home or go on break. They have to study. My kids are 5 y/o. They have been in English school just under a year. I unfortunately taught them to read. Unfortunate because now they have to memorize a lot of things. They are not ready for grammar concecpts.

I’m looking for tricks to help my kids finish their memorization and go play.

The words that have recently come up are: hammer, ladder, water, feather, teacher, letter. There are more I just can’t think of any at the moment.

I abhor statements like yours. :wink:

You got that right sailor.

Teach it as a generally rule, and don’t use the words “always” but say “usually”. Give them one exception and then show them 5 where it comes out that way. Then tell them that 90% of the time it will be right and if they don’t know, guess that.

That should help them go play.

watch out for words made up of other words, such as sidecar. There’s a great book in the teacher’s section (upstairs) of Caves’ called Spelling. It teaches all the rules that Taiwanese kids love.

You probably know this, but there are simple rules for when a ‘k’ sound in a word is spelled with a c or a k, when the same sound at the end of a word is k or ck, when to use tch or ch, dge or ge, etc. I didn’t know these rules, and I learned as much from the book as my students did.

I found it fascinating, and the kids’ spelling improved to a great degree, whereby I could tell them a word they’d never heard of but could now spell.

Get it; I think you’ll like it.

In most unaccented syllables (r-controlled or not), the vowel sound is ‘er’ from ‘letter’.


All the bold vowels above are ‘er’.


[quote=“Bu Lai En”][quote]

All the bold vowels above are ‘er’.[/quote][/quote]

Um, this only applies to non-rhotic dialects. In rhotic dialects there are two competely different sounds among the bolded letters in the above passage.

How many sounds does the letter r have?

I have been doing some more thinking on this. I have only found a few exceptions to the hypothesis, grammar and collar for example. I have decided to go ahead and teach this to my student taking your advise and pointing out that there are exceptions. If you can think of some more exceptions I would like to know. I will point them out the my kids.

Two: one consonantal (as in “red”) and one that’s vocalic and colors a preceding vowel (as in “laser”).

The “er” in “under” and the “a” in “unfortunate” are very different in my dialect (western American).

I was always taught and regularly hear the “o” in memorization and memory to sound like an “o” and not the “er” sound. At least here in North America, in these words the “or” part of the word sounds just like the word or.

Something to consider as well is that many things are pronounced incorrectly. Here in the States it’s usually difficult to differentiate one saying your from you’re, our and are, etc. In fact, it has gotten so bad that I saw a few times kids at the school I worked at mistakenly writing are instead of our.

Because many people write the way they speak, this is becoming more and more common when they put their inner voice onto paper (or nowadays more so punched on the keyboard). When pointed out to them, they immediately recognized the error, whereas many people still have trouble with your and you’re; there, their, and they’re.

I hate to be both parade-rainer, but is it really even worth getting into all this spelling rule complexity, in a language in which:

A) “two”, “too”, and “to” are all pronounced the same, and none of them contain the vowel “u”?

B) the sound “er” can be spelled either “er” (teacher, father, etc), “ur” (curl, hurl), or “ir” (bird, girl) – yet ALSO appears as “or” in “world” and “work” AND “ar” in “grammar”???

C) we have 2 ways to spell the sound “aw/au” and 2 ways to spell “ou/ow”, yet witness the words “bought” and “fought”!!!

D) the word “own” is spelled the way the word “one” should sound.

Sigh… and so on.
I just teach them basic phonics and then tell them, sorry, English spelling is senseless. Just memorize the shit.