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A customer wrote us with the following question:
What rule does the word LISTEN fall under? We don't pronounce the T, and my 5th grader is struggling.
Since it includes a sound that we don't typically pronounce in everyday speech, you will want to use say-to-spell when teaching the word "listen" to help your 5th grader hear and remember how the word is spelled: "We will say-to-spell /lis ten/." Say-to-spell is important whenever there is a sound that is distorted, such as a schwa, but it is also important when teaching a word that contains a phonogram that is silent or obscured, like talk or answer or whistle.
Then, when you analyze the word together, you discuss and double underline the silent letter.
When teaching a word like this it can also be helpful to help your student think about the word kinesthetically. Say it and feel it together with the silent sound included and develop a kinesthetic sense of why the sound may have been dropped and why dropping it made the word easier to say. Say the two syllables, such as /lis ten/, separately with the silent letter clearly pronounced; say them together; say them faster and faster and feel how the sound begins to be obscured or to drop out.