Understanding the Six Syllable Types - Closed Syllables


One of the most effective practices used in evidence-based reading intervention is the stress on teaching each of the syllable types and syllable division patterns. If you have never heard of the six syllable types, don't worry - you are not alone. Check out our blog: What's This About Six Syllable Types here!

Understanding the syllable types helps students anticipate the sound vowels will make in each word.

The first syllable type that we teach is the Closed Syllable.

A closed syllable is a syllable that ends in a consonant. When you find a consonant behind a vowel, the vowel is closed in or trapped. This makes the vowel say it’s short sound.

It does not matter what letter is in front of the vowel, we are only looking at the letter that follows the vowel.

Let’s use the word cat for an example.

This is a one-syllable word. The syllable ends with a consonant. The consonant follows the vowel, the letter a. Since the consonant is behind the vowel, we would say that the consonant, or letter t, is trapping the vowel or that the vowel is closed in. Thus, it can only say it’s short sound of /a/ like apple. Therefore, we would pronounce the word /c/ /a/ /t/.

Another example is the word in. This is also a one syllable word. The consonant, or letter n, is following the vowel i. Since the letter n is behind the vowel, the vowel is closed in or trapped. When it is closed in, it can only say it’s short sound of /i/ like itch.

Let’s look at a multi-syllable word, fantastic. This is a three-syllable word. First, we would want our students to divide this word, or scoop the syllables in this word; fan-tas-tic. Now, let’s look at each syllable starting with fan. The consonant n is behind the a, this makes the first syllable a closed syllable. Since the a is closed in or trapped, it makes the short sound of /a/ like apple. We pronounce this syllable as /f/ /a/ /n/. In the second syllable, tas, the consonant s is trapping or closing in the vowel a. This means the a can only say it’s short sound of /a/ like apple. We pronounce this second syllable as /t/ /a/ /s/ and it is also a closed syllable. The same is true with the final syllable of tic. The consonant c is closing in or trapping the vowel i, so the i can only say it’s short sound of /i/ like itch. We would pronounce the final, closed syllable as tic.

The opposite of a Closed Syllable is an Open syllable. While this syllable type is taught at a different time, and not in conjunction with Closed syllables, I do show an example of an Open syllable to my students when introducing the concept of Closed syllables because I think the illustration of an Open Syllable helps cement the concept or difference between Open and Closed.

For a video tutorial about Closed Syllables, click here:

Stay tuned for more information on our remaining syllable types: Open, Vowel Consonant E, R-Controlled, Vowel Teams, and Stable Final (Consonant LE).

Some of our favorite games to use when practicing this syllable type are: -ck Spelling Game, Crazy Floss , Syllable Type Sorts Game. Which are all available to our Membership Site subscribers or on TPT.

If you are interested in learning more about teaching literacy using syllable types consider joining our Delivering SMARTER Intervention course.

Corey Pollard