Vowels power speech. Students of any age cannot successfully communicate without mastering each vowel's pronunciation rules and occasional quirks. Vowels can particularly vex adult pupils, whose life experience may have instilled bad habits or trepidation in learning new skills. Although vowels are rudimentary, a teacher should avoid condescending to older learners as they learn about them. Sophisticated yet simple games are better instructional aids. Beginning students should always start with short vowels, which are easier to comprehend.

Step 1

Stage a vowel yelling contest. Present a word to two or three contestants, such as "hush" or "wait." First have them segment the word, or break it into its syllables: "h/uh/sh" or "w/ay/t." Next, ask them to yell out the word -- without the vowel sound. Then have them yell the word -- including the vowel. Whoever yells the loudest wins. This exercise helps students understand the power of vowels in speech.

Step 2

Teach students about the "magic E." This concept explains how the letter "E" changes a word's pronunciation when tacked onto its end. Examples include "mod," "pin" and "hat." The "magic E" transforms these words into "mode," "pine" and "hate."

Step 3

Create flashcards for short vowels and consonant-vowel-consonant groupings. Have students write the vowel on one side, along with a word incorporating that vowel on the other side. The short vowel "a," for instance, could pair with "apple" or "atoll." Or "-ug" -- another vowel-consonant pair -- also has many example words, such as "bug," "rug," "hug," and "lug."

Step 4

Challenge the students with tongue twisters. These are especially effective for alphabet vowels -- those that sound like their letters in the alphabet, like "able," "easy" or "puke" -- and relative vowels, like "fit" or "long," which do not sound exactly like their alphabet vowel.

Step 5

Feature a "student story" for every class, which can either precede or conclude the session on vowels. Print off a short piece of reading material, such as a poem or a paragraph from a longer article, one for each student. Randomly call on one student to read the material in front of the class. Designate a focus on one particular vowel, such as "a" or "o," as the vowel of the day. Have the whole class read along with the student as she reads out loud. When she reaches a word containing the vowel of the day, all the students should say the word aloud, along with her.