1. Introduce the Third Exception to the Main Rule

2. Practice applying the Third Exception.

Pre-Class Preparation

1. Write on the board: Main Rule: Stop each chunk after the vowel sound and say the First Vowel Sound.

2. Write on the board: First Exception: Add any double consonant to the chunk.

3. Write on the board: Second Exception: Add any marker to the chunk.

4. Write on the board: Third Exception: Add a sound if the next chunk is HARD TO SAY.

5. Familiarize yourself with the lesson plan and the word lists near the end.

Class time elapsed: 0 minutes

In-Class Procedures

1. Review the Main Rule about stopping each chunk after the vowel sound.

2. Then review the First Exception and the Second Exception.

Time elapsed: 4 minutes

3. Read aloud the Third Exception.

4. Write the word contest on the board. Now discuss the first chunk in terms of the Main Rule, noting that neither of the first two exceptions apply here. Draw a vertical line between co and ntest (stopping after the vowel sound, as instructed by the Main Rule.) Have a student say the first chunk (co) and then the second (ntest), and then point out how the chunk ntest is an awkward-sounding chunk, that is, that it is "hard to say."

5. Now write the word reptile on the board and repeat the process, drawing the vertical line between re and ptile. Again, point out that ptile is an awkward chunk and is “hard to say.”

6. Refer again to the Third Exception, and explain that the chunks ntest and ptile in the above two words are examples of chunks that are "hard to say" and that the Third Exception specifies that we should therefore move a letter from the "hard-to-say" chunk to the end of the preceding chunk, just as we did with markers and doubled consonants.

7. Redraw the line in contest between con and test and have a student say the two chunks. Point out how much easier it is to pronounce the chunk test.

8. Repeat the process with reptile, drawing the line between rep and tile.

Time elapsed: 8 minutes

9. Using words from the word list below, have the class first apply the Main Rule, then move the chunk boundary until the next chunk is no longer “hard to say.”

2-syllable words: jum-ping, lan-ded, in-vest, in-sect, lun-ches, lob-ster

2-syllable words requiring two sounds be moved: lamp-shade, camp-fire

Time elapsed: 12 minutes

10. Remind the class of the Rule of c and tell them to apply it to any c’s in an unfamiliar word before beginning to chunk the word. Then chunk the following 3-syllable words, after applying the Rule of c first where applicable:

3-syllable words: in-struc-ted, con-duc-ting, con-cen-trate

11. Sum up the lesson by telling the students that they now know the complete multisyllable decoding method and that once they learn the English code they should be able to figure out almost any unfamiliar word they encounter in their content area reading.

Time elapsed: 15 minutes


The “Hard to Say” exception could be rephrased in more elegant terms as: “Move sounds to the preceding chunk until the next chunk begins with a legal blend.” While the Third Exception might seem more complicated than the other two, it is actually quite easy to apply because people naturally chunk words like contest at the normal syllable boundaries (because ntest is an illegal English blend and is, as a result, quite awkward to pronounce.) No child would ever consider orally chunking contest as co-ntest for that reason (though they might attempt to do so for a while as they are learning to apply this method.)


Strictly applied, a word like resting will be chunked re-sting, which disturbs teachers who are used to teaching multisyllable decoding techniques which involve identifying prefixes, roots and suffixes. The point, though, is that young children will easily read the word resting if they do chunk it as re-sting and apply the First Vowel Sound, as instructed. Incidentally, this also prepares them to read longer words like requisition and restitution where the first chunk is not the prefix re.