Reading Room – December 2022

Last month we went over three syllable types (closed, v-e, and open) In this month’s Reading Room, we will be discussing Syllable Instruction: Part 2 (final stable syllable, vowel teams, and the r-controlled syllable type), and why syllable instruction is important to teach to our students.  There are six syllable types in the English language. Syllables are units of sound made by one impulse of the voice, and they are spoken or written units that have at least one vowel and may include consonants that precede or follow that vowel. When encountering unfamiliar words, skilled readers look for syllables, prefixes, and suffixes, which are the underlying structures of the words.   When students don’t have a strategy for chunking longer words into parts that are manageable, students often look at a long word and resort to guessing or skipping it.  Understanding syllable patterns helps students read longer words with accuracy and fluency not to mention promotes correct spelling. Knowing the syllable type also ensures that students will know how to pronounce the vowel sound (short or long sound). These spelling conventions are among many that were invented to help readers decide how to pronounce and spell words. As with all of the components of Structured Literacy, syllable type instruction must be explicit, direct, and multisensory.  Struggling readers will need lots of practice with each syllable type before moving on to the next one.  The three syllable types we are talking about this month are a bit more complex, especially for spelling.  We want our students to master each syllable type before introducing another one.  This can take time.  Once all of the syllable types have been introduced the instructional activities can include all six types.  Do not include a syllable type that hasn’t been taught, in an instructional activity.  We want our students to be working with what they know so that they will develop confidence and not use guessing as a strategy.

Final Stable Syllable (consonant le):

This syllable type always comes at the end of a word. An example would be the word apple.

The syllables are ap-ple. The ple is the final stable syllable or consonant le syllable. Any consonant can precede the le. The e is silent and just functions as the vowel in this syllable type.  This is the only syllable type that does not have a vowel sound. Here are some other examples:  puzzle, wiggle, maple, bugle, struggle.

Vowel Team/Double Vowel Syllable:

This syllable type contains a vowel team such as the word boat.  The oa is a team that makes the /o/ sound. There are quite a few of these teams. They can occur in the initial, medial, or final position in the syllable. Words with vowel teams can be difficult to spell as there are many options that make the same sound. Here are some examples: jeep, each, autumn, blue, dough, slow, cow.

R-Controlled Syllable:

The r-controlled syllable type always has a letter team with a vowel preceding the r, such as the word bird. This syllable type can look like a closed syllable but the r is such a powerful letter, it skews the sound of the vowel. Examples of r-controlled syllables: turn, fern, star, corn, earth, world.

Example Activities

Introducing Syllable Types


Teaching Big Words

Vowel Teams

R- Controlled Word Cards

Long a

Consonant – le


For questions, please contact:

Chris Fox –, Jessica Powell –

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