The Six Syllable Types: Vowel Teams (Part II)

Vowel Teams are common letter combinations that include at least one vowel.  

In Part I, I gave a brief overview of Vowel Teams. Below are some examples of Vowel Teams, and how you might see these used in teaching. I hope this helps!


  • ai, ay (wait, train, pay, stay)
  • au, aw (haunt, paw)
  • ee,ey,ea (seed, key, bead)
  • oi, oy (coin, toy)
  • oa, oe, ow (coat, toe, row)
  • ou, oo, ue, ew (soup, tool, cue, blew)

You may have heard the jingle (or have seen a video), “When two vowels do the walking, the first one does the talking.” For instance, in the word “bait,” the /a/does the “talking,” as in a long sound. There are some cute free videos teaching this concept on the internet.

Vowel teams can be tricky as the same team can make different sounds. For example, /ea/makes a long e, but can also make a short e, as in bread) Teach the most common pronunciation first, and if this pronunciation does not make sense, try different vowel team sounds.

Vowel digraphs, vowel diphthongs, and words with the similar or same vowel sound are often taught alongside each other in reading lessons and worksheets. For instance, the following long vowel sounds might be taught together: ai, ay, and a-consonant-silent e as in say, bait, bake, plane, train, etc. This helps students concentrate on one vowel sound at a time.

The Six Syllable Types: Vowel Teams (Part I)

Vowel Teams are the sixth syllable type we will discuss.

Vowel Teams are letter combinations that include at least one vowel. For example, the /ay/ in the first syllable, and the /ea/ in the second syllable of the word “daydream” each make a vowel team. 

There are some distinctions among vowel teams. They are:  

  • Vowel Digraphs are two vowels together that make one sound, such as ee in beet.
  • Vowel Diphthongs occur when one vowel sound glides into another, such as oi in toil.
  • Vowel Teams can consist of different letter combinations/not all vowels, such as igh in light or ow in cow.

For simplicity, I teach two vowels side by side using the phrase, “Vowel Teams,” rather than the more technical terms above. Teaching vowel teams is fundamental in teaching reading. I will discuss more in next post.