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Organization of the Word Lists

By Rodney Everson • Updated Jul 28th, 2023

OnTrack Reading Phonics Program

Teach your student the phonics advanced code in as little as 8 weeks with our 170-page workbook and instruction manual.

The word lists available here at OnTrack Reading break down into two major categories: spellings of vowel sounds and spellings of consonant sounds. Within the vowel sound category, lists are divided into one-syllable words and words of two or more syllables.

Author’s Note

You might want to take a moment to read Notation for the 43 Sounds elsewhere on this site to familiarize yourself with the notation used to designate each of the 19 vowel sounds and 24 consonant sounds taught in the OnTrack Reading Phonics Program, since that notation is used here also.

The Order of Presentation of the Sounds

There are 19 vowel sounds taught in the OnTrack Reading Phonics Curriculum. They tend to fall into the following four groups:

1. /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, and /u/ are the First Vowel Sounds, often called the short vowel sounds

2. /ae/, /ee/, /ie/, /oe/, and /ue/ are the Second Vowel Sounds, often called the long vowel sounds.

3. /ar/, /or/, /er/, and /err/ are the vowel sounds influenced by the letter r, sometimes called the r-controlled vowel sounds.

4. /ow/, /oo/, /oul/, /oi/, and /aw/ are the remaining vowel sounds.

There are both one-syllable and multisyllable word lists for each of 19 vowel sounds. However, the word lists for the first group, the First Vowel Sounds, only use basic code spellings. Words like head, want, gym, and touch don't appear on those particular word lists. Instead there is a fifth grouping as follows:

5. /e/ spelled ea or ai, /i/ spelled y, /o/ spelled a, and /u/ spelled ou.

Program Tip

The schwa sound common to most multisyllable words, and some one-syllable words like son, was and what, is not acknowledged here. Instead the vowel sound in such words is generally represented as one of the First or Second Vowel Sounds.

Vowel Sounds - One-Syllable

The lists found on the page One-Syllable Words: by Vowel Sound together include all of the one-syllable words in the database. A one-syllable word has exactly one vowel sound in it, and that sound determines which list the word appears on. All of the one-syllable words in the database will appear on one, and only one, of the word lists in this section.

For example, hatch will appear on the /a/ list, both couch and clown will appear on the /ow/ list, and thread will appear on the "/e/ spelled ea or ai" list.

Within each list, the words are broken down by spelling of the targeted sound. For example, couch will appear under the -ou- heading and clown will appear under the -ow- heading. Take a look:

Vowel Sounds - Multisyllable

On the other hand, several of the lists found on the page Multisyllable Words: by Vowel Sound might list the same word, if that word contains several different vowel sounds.

Within each multisyllable list, the words are grouped by number of syllables. Each such group is then subdivided depending upon which syllable the target sound first appears in. And then, within each such subdivision, the words are grouped according to the particular spelling of the targeted sound.

For example, the word iceberg will appear on the /ie/ multisyllable list under the category 2-syllable, 1st, -i-e-, and will also appear on the /er/ multisyllable list under the category 2-syllable, 2nd, -er-. Take a look:

Complete Coverage of a Vowel Sound

Say you are looking for all of the words in the database that have the /ow/ sound spelled with the digraph ou. You then only have to download two lists, the one-syllable list of /ow/ spellings, and the multisyllable list of /ow/ spellings. Within each list you'll find all of the words containing the spelling ou segregated into separate sublistings. Take a look:

Consonant Sounds by Spelling

The organization of the consonant sound word lists is a bit different. Here, each list covers just one specified spelling of the targeted sound, and the lists are grouped together by the targeted sound. All of the words with a specified spelling are included on the same list, whether one-syllable or multisyllable. Take a look at this example:

Summing Up

If you've come to the OnTrack Reading website looking for word lists, I hope you find what you need. If you spot errors in a list please consider taking a minute to use the Contact link at the bottom of the page and let me know.

If you're searching for word lists in an effort to help a struggling reader, I strongly encourage you to check out some of the other information here on my website, particularly the information in the section Understanding the Dyslexia Puzzle.

And if you're looking for a fast, effective way to teach a child phonics, particularly the advanced code that presents so many interesting challenges, take a look at the OnTrack Reading Advanced Code Phonics Workbook.

Otr wordlists cover digital

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.
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