October 22, 2003
There is a letter-sound order reading specialists use to teach reading. Although some publishers vary it a bit to fit their own philosophy, everyone seems to go back to the research done in the 1920's. Basically, the short-vowels and most commonly used consonants used in English are taught first so students can begin reading immediately (more words using a, b, c, f, m, s, and t --at, bat, Sam, mat, ..., than other letters (q, x, y, z) for beginning readers). This short-vowel strategy empowers beginning readers, giving them independence as quickly as possible. Additionally, students don't need to know all the different rules that make vowels say their long sounds to be able to read or spell correctly (short /a/ is spelled a, but long /a/ can be spelled five ways: a, a_e, ai, ay, and eigh). Next, digraphs are taught--ch, sh, th, wh, followed by consonant blends (bl, pr, st, ...), r-controlled vowels (ar, er, ir, or, ur), long vowels, consonant-le patterns (ble, cle, zle, ...), and finally diphthongs (oo, aw, ow, ew,...).