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ER (her) Sound Word List

By Rodney Everson

The /er/ sound is one of a class of four sounds often referred to as the r-controlled vowel sounds. The four sounds are /ar/ (car), /or/ (for), /er/ (her), and /err/ (merry). This class of vowel sounds has few spelling options.

Of the 7,000 words in the database constructed from a popular children’s dictionary, 79 of them are one-syllable words in which the vowel sound is /er/. The /er/ sound has the most spellings in this class of vowel sounds, with five different spellings, all fairly common. Those spellings are "er" (her), "ir" (bird), "or" (work), "ur" (burn), and "ear" (learn). Because this list is organized by the various /er/ spellings, it is easy to find the words where the /er/ sound is spelled "ir", to take one example. This list is also a good reference for locating words where a preceding letter "w" changes the pronunciation of the "or" spelling from the /or/ sound to the /er/ sound in words like work and world.

Unlike the /or/ and /ar/ sounds, the /er/ sound combines a schwa sound (a brief /u/ sound) with the /r/ sound. Since it can be spelled with an "a" (collar), an "e" (her), an "i" (fir), an "o" (work), a "u" (fur), and even with the digraph "ea" (earn), teaching it as two sounds would introduce the need to test the schwa sound for each of those letters. Choosing to teach spellings of a single /er/ sound instead removes that need and simplifies instruction.

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Comprehensive Word Lists

Features over 100 word lists built from 7,000 words input from a children's dictionary. Lists are organized by vowel and consonant sounds and cover most common spellings. Useful in the classroom for building curriculum aids such as short stories that emphasize specific sounds and spellings. Multisyllable words are also included, chunked according to the method taught in the OnTrack Reading Advanced Code Phonics Workbook.