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.