The Long O is one of the easiest long vowels to learn because its patterns are unique and they are fairly consistent. I would suggest starting with the “Magic E” pattern. This should be easy to learn since your child has probably already gotten very used to this rule from other long vowels. Following this, I would move onto the “oa” and “ow” long o patterns as they are also very reliable. After that, finish up with the rest of the patterns listed below and move on to Long U.
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How to Pronounce the Long O
The Long O sound is very easy to make. If you can say the name of the letter “O,” then you can pronounce the Long O. Learning the sound will not take long. If you are uncertain if a word makes a Long O, then you can use its IPA symbol which I have listed below.
The IPA symbol for the Long O is /oʊ/.
1. Long O Pattern: “Magic E Words” (o_e)
Just as you have seen before with previous long vowels, Long O also uses the Magic E words pattern. Start by having them identify words with Magic E when teaching them about the Long O sound.
Important Words with “Magic E Words” (o_e)
Exceptions to “o_e”
- Lose (makes an oo sound, like the “o” in “to”)
- Love (makes a short /u/ sound)
2. Long O Pattern: oa
This is another common long vowel rule that can help your child read Long O. The “oa” pattern can come at the beginning or in the middle of the word. Nothing too complicated here, and no important exceptions to this rule to worry about. Children may get confused by the “a” in “oa,” but it is silent and the whole thing should just be pronounced as a Long O.
Important Words with “oa”
Exceptions to “oa”
There are no common exceptions to this rule.
3. Long O Pattern: ow
The “ow” pattern is a harder pattern to learn compared to those that came before it. This is because the “ow” pattern is often not a Long O but is instead an /aʊ/ (the ow in cow). Learning which “ow” words make a true Long O sound and which make the /aʊ/ sound will require you to memorize which words take which sound. It will take time for children to familiarize themselves with important words that use these sounds, so don’t expect them to be perfect at it in the short term. In the meantime, practice often and correct children when they use the wrong sound.
Important Words with “ow”
Exceptions to “ow”
- Some common “ow” words do not make a Long O sound, but instead make a sound like the “ou” in “about.” These “ow” words that sound more like “ou” include allow, cow, brown, down, frown, crown, how, now, owl, towel, town, and vowel. For more information, you can take a look at this more in-depth post on the “ow” sound.
4. Long O Pattern: O (Open Syllable)
As seen in previous long vowel lessons, the Open Syllable rule also applies to the letter “O.” When a vowel is at the end of a syllable, it makes a long vowel sound and not the usual short vowel sound. I recommend just trying to make your child as familiar with the common Long O words that follow this rule, rather than teaching them the rule and having them apply it on their own.
Important Words with “o” (Open Syllable)
- Robot (only the first “o” is long, the second is a short /o/)
Important Exceptions to “o” (Open Syllable)
- To (the o makes the same sound as the “ou” in “you”)
5. Long O Pattern: O (Followed by Two Consonants)
Just as in Long I, Long O also has examples of Long O’s happening when they are followed by two consonants. This typically occurs in words that are only one syllable long. This rule should not be relied upon too much as it may be too hard for children to understand properly. In this case, just teach them the important words as best you can.
Important Words with “o” (Followed by Two Consonants)
Important Exceptions to “o” (Followed by Two Consonants)
- Words that end in -sh or -th (moth, posh, sloth)
6. Long O Pattern: oe
There are not so many examples of this kind of Long O. However, it is an easy to recognize long vowel rule, and a safe Long O pattern. No need to make this the first lesson on Long O’s, but make sure your child can recognize this pattern.
Important Words with “oe”
- Moe (name)
- Joe (name)
Important Exceptions to “oe”
None of any real importance.
How do I Practice Long Vowel Patterns?
Once you have gone over the patterns that use Long O, it is best to practice identifying Long O vowels by reading with your child. You can do this by reading to your child and having them try to sound out individual words, or let them read to you. It all depends on what they like, and what level of English they have. For long vowel identification, reading is the best way for children to learn the patterns and to start to become familiar with common exceptions to the rules.
While reading with your child, please make sure that you discourage them from guessing words. Also, do not try to push them to read beyond their level. By taking it slow in the beginning and properly teaching them how to read using long vowel patterns and synthetic phonics, your child will improve in the long run.
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