The English alphabet is made up of two types of letters: vowels and consonants. The vowels are u, o, i, e, and a. The rest of the letters are consonants. There are times when y and w are considered vowels, but most of the time, they are consonants.

Spelling Patterns

English words are made up of one or more parts or syllables. A syllable is a word part with one vowel sound. In general, syllables in English words follow predictable patterns of spelling. When teaching children how to spell, teachers often present the types of patterns found frequently in English words. When presenting these patterns, it is common to use the letters “V” and “C” to stand for “vowels” and “consonants.” For example, one of the most common spelling patterns is “CVC.” A CVC word begins with a consonant, has a vowel in the middle, and ends in a consonant. Words such as “cat,” “sip,” and “dog” are one-syllable CVC words. Words such as “mama” and “papa” are two-syllable CVC words.

VCCCV Pattern

VCCCV words are two-syllable words. The pattern VCCCV indicates that the word must have three consonants in the middle flanked by vowels on each end. This does not mean the words are only five letters long or that the word must begin with a vowel. There can be more letters on either end of the word, but the center of the word has a vowel, then three consonants, followed by another vowel.

Decoding VCCCV Words

VCCCV words are unusual in that two of the consonants in the center of the word make only one sound or comprise a blend. Two consonants together that make one sound are known as a consonant digraph. Some common consonant digraphs include: "sh," "ch," and "th." All VCCCV words will contain a consonant digraph, or a blended sound. Consonant blends are common consonants used together in words that keep their own sounds, such as "cl," "br" and "st." Some words that follow the VCCCV pattern include: inspect, explode, laughter, mischief, district and complain.

Understanding the Pattern

Knowing the VCCCV pattern can help students to read unfamiliar words. Students can break the word into smaller parts, or syllables, to determine how to pronounce the word correctly. VCCCV words are divided into syllables either before or after the two consonants that go together. For example, in the word “laughter” the two consonants that go together are “gh.” The word would be divided between this digraph and the third consonant. Therefore, laughter is divided thus: “laugh-ter.” The standalone consonant is always part of the other syllable in a VCCCV word.