Episode 14: Macaroons and Macrons-a delicious phonics treat!

When I was learning how to read, I can recall my First Grade teacher using diacritical marks that indicated how to call the target words. My First Grade teacher may have taught me the names of those diacritical marks, but it was not until I was in my thirties, that I actually learned the names of the marks used to indicate the short vowel sound, and the long vowel sound.

A study that was done in 1972, proved that “children who used this medium were superior in reading not only in their own medium but also in traditional orthography. Their spelling and the quality and quantity of their free composition was also superior” (Johnson, Jones, Cole, & Walters, p. 120). Hence, using diacritical marks with students is a powerful teaching technique.

Most reading instruction tends to focus on comprehension strategies. But to build a word conscious classroom, reading instruction should encompass pronunciation of words and practices that build the student’s background knowledge. Hence, I try to incorporate techniques for building background knowledge and pronunciation into my daily instruction with students by way of digital tools. In addition to online dictionaries, I use a site called howjsay with my students. This website helps my students hear correct pronunciations of words. Moreover, telling students to listen to the correct pronunciation of words will permit proper brain impressions of that word.

I also encourage students to use their digital devices to search for pictures or videos of words (e.g., minuet, iota, and iodine). This allows students to build a lexicon of known words. Hence, the more words students know, the higher their achievements. In this podcast episode, you will hear a discussion about the diacritical marks that are used with the short vowel sounds and the long vowel sounds. You will also hear me discuss open syllables and closed syllables with the students. This particular episode also has a sweet treat.


Johnson, H.; Jones, D.; Cole, A.; Walters, M. (June 01, 1972). The Use of Diacritical Marks in Teaching Beginners to Read. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 42, 120-6.

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