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1.20: Lesson Twenty

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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Long and Short \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a> and <e>

1. Say at and ate a few times. The sound the \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a> spells in at is called short \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a>. The sound the \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a> spells in ate is called long \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a>.

2. Listen carefully for the short \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a>'s and long \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a>'s in these words and sort the words into the two groups below:

\begin{align*}&\text{magic} && \text{happy} && \text{came} && \text{someday}\\ &\text{favor} && \text{laugh} && \text{scratch} && \text{than}\\ &\text{name} && \text{place} && \text{same} && \text{last}\\ &\text{chance} && \text{apple} && \text{station} && \text{take}\end{align*}magicfavornamechancehappylaughplaceapplecamescratchsamestationsomedaythanlasttake

Words with ...
short \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a> long \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a>
magic apple favor same
chance scratch name station
happy than place someday
laugh last came take

3. Say bet and beat a few times. The sound the <e> spells in bet is short <e>. The sound the <ea> spells in beat is long <e>. Listen for the short <e>'s and long <e>'s in the following words. Then sort them into the two groups:

\begin{align*}&\text{queen} && \text{best} && \text{question} && \text{believe}\\ &\text{help} && \text{yellow} && \text{these} && \text{then}\\ &\text{get} && \text{she} && \text{seat} && \text{leave}\\ &\text{three} && \text{teacher} && \text{rent} && \text{seven}\end{align*}queenhelpgetthreebestyellowsheteacherquestiontheseseatrentbelievethenleaveseven

Words with . . .
short <e> long <e>
help question queen these
get rent three seat
best then she believe
yellow seven teacher leave

Word Find. The Find below is shaped like the word LONG because all thirty words in it contain a long \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a> or a long <e>:

\begin{align*}&\text{always} && \text{late} && \text{same}\\ &\text{ate} && \text{leave} && \text{seat}\\ &\text{be} && \text{may} && \text{she}\\ &\text{between} && \text{meat} && \text{sheep}\\ &\text{came} && \text{name} && \text{sleep}\\ &\text{day} && \text{need} && \text{take}\\ &\text{eat} && \text{page} && \text{theme}\\ &\text{feet} && \text{peace} && \text{these}\\ &\text{gave} && \text{place} && \text{three}\\ &\text{he} && \text{queen} && \text{today}\end{align*}alwaysatebebetweencamedayeatfeetgavehelateleavemaymeatnameneedpagepeaceplacequeensameseatshesheepsleeptakethemethesethreetoday

Teaching Notes.

  1. It is important in this and subsequent lessons to be consistent with the pronunciation of the names of sounds and letters: In the next lesson the students will learn to write short \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a> phonetically as [a], long \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a> as \begin{align*}[\bar{\mathrm{a}}]\end{align*}[a¯], short <e> as [e], and long <e> as \begin{align*}[\bar{\mathrm{e}}]\end{align*}[e¯]. Remember that the phrases “short \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a>” and “short <e>” rhyme with “short day” and “short plea,” but the sounds referred to by those phrases, [a] and [e], are quite different: When we are reading aloud the symbols “[a]” or “[e]”, we refer to them with the vowel sounds that you hear in the middle of words like bat and bet. Thus short <e> is pronounced something like “eh”. Although long vowel sounds are usually identical in sound to the pronunciation of the alphabet names of the letters used in square brackets to symbolize them, short vowel sounds are always quite different in sound from the pronunciation of the alphabet names of the letters used in square brackets to symbolize them.
  2. It is worth concentrating some on the distinction between short \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a> and short <e>. Enough college students confuse the words than and then often enough in their writing to remind us that perceptually [a] and [e] are very close, especially in cases where they are not receiving a great deal of stress. One useful exercise would be to have the students collect what the linguist calls minimal pairs — that is, words like than and then that differ in only one feature, which in this case would be the contrast between [a] and [e]. Some examples follow: pan/pen, bad/bed, sand/send, fad/fed, band/bend, and/end, Alf/elf, bag/beg, lag/leg, ranch/wrench, flash/flesh, mash/mesh, knack/neck, rack/wreck, track/trek, am/em, an/en, jam/gem, lass/less, mass/mess, gas/guess, bat/bet, mat/met, gnat/net, pat/pet, pack/peck, vast/vest, past/pest. Somewhat more complicated are these: sad/said, laughed/left, tanned/tend, spanned/spend, pact/pecked, mast/messed.
  3. For more on long and short vowels, see AES, pp. 52-54; for short \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a> see pp. 213-16; for long \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a>, pp. 249-57; for short <e>, pp. 217-221; for long <e>, pp. 258-70.
  4. For the record, the Word Find contains a number of words that contain short rather than long vowels: had, ham, an, jet, as, defend, chest, apt, and .... It also contains three that are not on the list of target words and yet may be circled by some students: the, era, defend. Usually the is pronounced with a schwa, but in certain emphatic situations it is pronounced with a long <e>. Dictionaries show various pronunciations of era: [irə], [erə], [ērə]. The sound [r] has a strong effect on a vowel that precedes it. Compare, for instance, the difference in sound spelled by the \begin{align*}<\mathrm{a}>\end{align*}<a> in mare as compared with made. No dictionary shows defend with a long <e>, but young football fans, thinking of the cheer “Dee-fense!” may want to claim defend. Linguistically, the claims for the and era are quite valid; the claim for defend is not. But personally I would accept any of them for which a student wanted to argue.

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
Last Modified:
Apr 29, 2014
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