Hi there. First time user on these forums so I hope I have posted in the correct forum Emotion: smile
My 6 year old son is learning to read and is progressing steadily. However, he struggles to remember the spelling for words which use the diphthongs OW and OU. So for example, he'll think owl is spelt oul and bounce is spelt bownce.

I need to find a rule or a way of being able to help him remember how to differentiate between the two spellings. I came across one rule that stated:
"Ou or Ow: Use ou in the middle of a word and use ow at the end of words other than those that end in n or d."

But this does not allow for exceptions such as owl, growl, towel, loud, fowl, foul etc.
Any help would be really appreciated!
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Comments  (Page 2) 
I agree that better spelling comes with age and exposure, however I teach first grade and one of the skills we are required to teach children to "learn and apply" ou and ow. While students do write words with ou and ow, their writing time is is taught seperately.
There is a simple rule, which has only three exceptions:

OW is used: 1. at the end of a word eg how, cow

2. at the end of a syllable within a word eg flow-er, tow-el

3. before 'n' or 'l' if they are at the end of a word eg brown, howl

OU is used in every other case....

... with the following exceptions: noun

This is from the LEM Phonics programme
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
yes i am teaching the same NOW (heehee ) to my class.... i thought it was due to another vowel letter but no.. and as u said it is not a rule... i am busting my brain to find a way...and they are NOT native speakers, they are Egyptian!!! help....
if i find a way i will let you know ( another hee hee )
At six, it sounds like he is doing really well as it is. Encourage him to use his "smarty spelling" or phonetic spelling for now in first drafts because writing is a very complex process anyway. Congratualate him for spelling brown at all - even if he does spell it Broun. Phonetically it is just as "correct."

Then, teach him that because there are different ways to spell the same sounds there are English "conventions" - they aren't any more correct phonetically, but they are how, over time, it has been decided things should be spelled. As he learns the editing process he can go back adn "correct" spellings to fit with convention. Hold off on this until he is a confident writer to begin with (in terms of just getting letters formed in the first place) though.

Banced mama
That was SOOOO helpful. I googled to find a rule to distinguish when to use ow and ou, and yours was the only helpful result. My 7 year old is not good at spelling. His spelling test is all about ow and ou words this week, and he's majorly struggling with how to know when to use each one. This rule just let a light bulb turn on for him. Thank you.
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The letters OW can make two sounds: /ow/ (as in owl) or long o (as in slow). Is there a rule to help when to use each sound? Any help appreciated.
There is no rule. We even have words such as row and bow which can be pronounced both ways, with different meanings.
I totally agree, but my son's online school program has him doing phonetic lessons on these dipthongs as well as testing on the spelling. So we tried the rule if in the middle use au and end use aw but just keep finding a lot of words that break the rule. HELP!!! I am thankful for your post. Anyone out there want to put the rules for phonetic sounds in one book. I would buy it in a heart beat.
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AnonymousAnyone out there want to put the rules for phonetic sounds in one book.
I once wrote a rough draft for such a book. I got up to Rule 322. I estimated that another 25 to 40 more rules might be added if I wished to continue. And this was just for General American English.

I doubt this is a very good way to learn much of any use to the general reader. With this manuscript I had moderate success in improving the pronunciation, spelling, and reading ability of a few Spanish speakers, but neither they nor I ultimately thought it was worth the trouble. At first it seemed so logical to us that we thought it couldn't fail, but we soon realized that a much more intuitive method is needed because nobody can remember all those rules.

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