phoneme ou

This language lesson is designed for 4 to 6-year-old children. It guides the children with distinct sounds the Phoneme ‘ou’ produces and how it is used to form different words. 

Phonemes can be regarded as the initial units of spoken language. By fusing different phonemes, also known as sounds, we can create a variety of words. We have phonemes in English that are created from both vowels and consonants. For instance, the word ‘gun’ consists of three sounds  – /g/, /u/, /n/ and here /u/ is the vowel sound.

In order to master the reading skill, children must first be able to identify phonics and phonemes while reading.

What is Phoneme Blending?

Phoneme blending is the capacity to recognize the individual sounds in a word, combine the sounds, and pronounce the resulting word. For instance, if a student hears the sounds /ccc/, /ooo/, /lll/, and /ddd/, they will say the word “cold.” 

In order to improve reading abilities, phoneme blending is crucial. Children who are able to blend sounds will eventually be able to see the letters in a word. They would consider the sounds each letter is making and can easily blend those sounds to spell the word.

In our previous video lesson, we discussed the phoneme ‘ch’ and phoneme segmentation. In this video, we will learn about the phoneme ‘ou’. It is also one of the confusing phonemes because of its pronunciation changes when used in different words.

Prerequisites to Comprehend Phoneme ‘ou’

Before moving to learn two-letter phonemes     

  • A child should be able to form two-letter words or CVC words.

What is Phoneme ‘OU’ and Its Variations?

The phoneme ‘OU’ is made of 2 letters, namely o and u. When these two letters come together, they make a new sound /ou/. It is also known as the vowel blend. 

Let us understand how and when the phoneme ‘ou’ produces these 4 sounds.

  • Produces /ow/ sound: When the letters ‘ou’ are written in the beginning or in the middle of a syllable, it is usually pronounced as /ow/. For example- house, south, mouse, round.
  • Produces a long /o/ sound:  Course, mourn, and fourth are a few words where ou is pronounced as long /o/
  • Produces /oo/sound: In the words like you, tour, and group the phoneme ‘ou’ makes the sound of /oo/.
  • Produces /uh/ sound: In the words like a country, or cousin, there is the sound of /uh/ produced by the phoneme ou.

The words that follow the 2, 3, and 4 rules are learned through pronunciation rather than to be understood. There are basically no particular rules for these 3 types of sounds produced by phoneme ou.

This video lesson uses picture cards and movable alphabets to help the child make new words using this phoneme, for example, mouse, house, south, and round. All these words use the phoneme ‘ou’.

How to Form Words with Phoneme ‘OU’ and Different Sounds it Produces? 

In this video lesson, picture cards and movable alphabets are used to help the child make new words using the phoneme ou that produces /ow/ sound. 

Words that Follow Rule 1: 

Read the following words with /ow/ sound following the above rules:

    • C + ou + n + t = count
    • L + ou + d = loud
    • S + ou + th = south
    • M + ou + se = mouse
    • Ou + ch = ouch
    • Ou + t =out

In the above examples, the Phoneme ‘ou’ comes at the starting or the middle of the word. Hence, it produces /ow/ sound.

Words that Follow ou Rule 2

Now, let’s read the below words:

    • P + ou + r = pour
    • G + ou + rd = gourd
    • C + ou + rse = course

Words that Follow ou Rule 3

Now, let us read the following words:

    • t + ou + r = tour
    • gr + ou + p = group
    • cr + ou + t + on = crouton 

Words that Follow ou Rule 4

Read the following words with /uh/ sound following rule 4. 

    • D + ou + ble = double
    • C + ou + s + in = cousin
    • C + ou +n + try = country 

Phoneme ‘OU’ Reading Readiness

Make a child familiar with voiced-unvoiced consonants, short-long vowels, blends, and basic phonemes to help them grasp a thorough knowledge of the Phoneme ‘ou’. Here are a few questions that can be asked to help the child read the correct spelling of a word.

  1. Does the word carry another syllable?
  2. Is the Phoneme ‘OU’ in the beginning or middle of the word? 
  3. Is there any other vowel or consonant blend in the word?

Once the child answers the above questions with yes or no, encourage them to look into the rules and spell the word. Give a lot of activities and reading to help the child understand the Phoneme OU rule.

A Few Activities to Introduce Phoneme ‘OU’

Activities are a fun way that makes learning easy. Some activities that can help the child understand the concept and sound of the phoneme ‘ou’ are mentioned below –

  • Make a spelling quiz wherein leave the last sound or the first is to be filled by the child. Practice different words.
  • Ask the child to form a few sentences or a small paragraph or some storyline using the words with different sounds that the phoneme ‘ou’ produces.
  • A jingle with different sounds of the phoneme ‘ou’ could be an exciting idea for the children. For example, I see a round, let us start the count, we are tough to go on a rough round…. and so on; get creative!

Repeat this activity by asking the child to make different words with this phoneme and add more words to their vocabulary, as shown in the video.

Related videos:

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Video Created by: Joanne Shango


  •   How many sounds does Phoneme OU produce?

 The Phoneme OU produces 4 distinct sounds – 

    • /ow/ as in found, about, house, shout
    • Long o as in four, pour, course, shoulder.
    • /oo/ as in you, your, tour
    • /uh/ as in the country, cousin, double
  •   Is ou a diphthong?

A diphthong is a sound when 2 vowels combine in a single syllable. Here, also one sound of the vowel begins and merges with the other. The most common diphthongs are oy/oi and ou/ow.



  • english language
  • language development
  • phonic sound
  • primary level
  • pronunciation