A vowel team is when two vowels are paired together in a word and combined to make one sound. It is when two or more (but most likely two) letters work together to create a single vowel sound. Vowel teams often come together to make a long vowel sound, like the long e in “seat,” but that is not a rule. They can also create short vowel sounds, like the harsh e sound of “head.”
A word like read is a great way to see how vowel teams can make short or long vowel sounds, as it can be spoken with both a long and a short vowel sound to make a different word (she should read/she has read).
If you want a rule to follow to help with vowel teams, we love “when two vowels go out walking, the first one does the talking.”These patterns often follow the guideline of the first letter in each pair having the dominant sound, like “pie” and “beat.”
What are vowels in English?
A vowel is a letter used within all words in the English language.
The alphabet contains 26 letters in total. These are split into two classes of speech: vowels and consonants.
Vowels are different from consonants because of the way we say them.
Naturally, you breathe out when you say a vowel. This also means your mouth doesn’t close. With a consonant, your mouth moves differently, and your lips touch.
Try saying each out loud.
They vary in sound, pronunciation, and volume.
Vowels and Consonants List:
There are 26 letters in the English alphabet, each falling into either a vowel or a consonant category. Take a look at this handy vowels and consonants list to see which letters are which:
Vowels: A, E, I, O, U.
Consonants: B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X, Z.
Why do we need vowels?
It’s important to understand vowels while reading aloud, singing, or simply doing comprehension and listening activities. This is because we typically concentrate on vowels over consonants to emphasize our words when singing. As a result, people are more prone to hearing vowels best over consonants.
Why are vowel teams important?
Vowel teams are important to learn because they are one of the trickiest parts of spelling. Take the long “o” sound, for example. You can create that with the following:
- oa = boat
- ow = glow
- oe = woe
- ough = though
- ew = sew
- o_e = home
With all those options, children need to learn which are the correct choices; otherwise, guessing on sound alone could leave us with the boat as bowt, boet, bought, or bewt! So it’s no surprise that vowel teams can inspire some of the biggest struggles with learning spelling rules and making spelling mistakes.
But with 18 vowel sounds in the English language and only a measly five vowels, we need to use vowel teams to make this tricky language work!
The technical term for vowel teams is “vowel digraphs”; however, it might be easier for children to recognize these vowel pairings with a simpler word. It also helps us to describe how the vowels work together to create a sound. So, if you want to sound smart, next time someone asks, “what is a vowel team?” you can explain it and give it the technical name, too!
Vowel digraph list
- OW – as in know or snow
- UI – as in fruit or bruise
- OE – as in toe or goes
- OA – as in boat or road
- EA – as in thread or lead
- EA – as in reading or beach
- IE – as in pie or lie
- IE – as in a field or chief
- UE – as in glue or fuel
- OO – as in wood or flood
- EY – as in them or prey
- AI – as in rain or pain.
Why do we use consonants in vowel teams?
The simplest answer is that English is an inconsistent and frustrating language that has taken on different rules from other languages over the years.
A more sensible answer is that English words are not intended to end in either “i” or “u,” and as such, we use “y” instead of the “i” and “w” for “u.”