Teaching the r-controlled syllable
What is r-controlled syllable?
The r-controlled syllable or vowel r patterns syllable is one of the six types of written syllables in the English language. It contains a vowel followed by the consonant /r/ such as /ar/ = car, carpel, carpellate; /or/ =sort, consort, consortium; /ir/ = firm, confirm,confirmation; /er/ =verb, adverb, adverbialize; /ur/ =cur, current, concurrency
It is called the r-controlled syllable because the /r/ controls the vowel sound. It is also called the vowel r patterns syllable for a more explicit term because the consonant /r/ has always a vowel before it . The pronunciation of the words is dominated by the /r/ and the manner of articulation is one of the two most problematic speech sounds, the other problematic speech sound is the /l/. It is articulated differently depending on its location whether it is at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the word, and most of the time, the vowel is not long or short making it too difficult to read for struggling students. It is even more problematic to spell because the words are different from how they are read.
How do we teach the r-controlled syllable effectively and successfully?
Students must know how to identify the vowel r patterns and why we called it the r-controlled syllable and the most successful method for teaching this syllable type is to glue the vowel with the /r/ = /ar/, /or/, /ir/, /er/, /ur/ along with tracing the r-controlled syllable and your strategies to read words. Sticking the vowel with the /r/ and tracing the r-controlled syllable will help the student to learn effectively and successfully with faster progress in reading and spelling. It will also prevent the other sounds from getting in between the vowel and the /r/ -- the reason why most struggling students are reading the words like form as from and girl as gril, bird as brid.
Explicitly teaching structurally and systematically starting from one-syllable simple words and focussing on one concept at a time such as /ar/ first, followed by /or/ and so on is more effective rather than giving the students a mixed list of different words with different types and numbers of syllables .
Also, there are more than 400 one-syllable r-controlled words, and learning to spell all these words is very challenging for severely impaired students and could even lag them further behind. Thus, they should learn how to spell the most common r-controlled words along with the strategies to remember the sounds so that they can also move further to learn the other concepts of the English language.
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