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Start your Color Vowel Journey.

Click on a color to hear the vowel sound.

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The Color Vowel® Chart

is a visual organizer for spoken English. Each color represents a vowel sound.

For example, GREEN is the high front vowel /iy/, as found in the words tree and teacher. Similarly, BLUE represents the high back vowel /uw/, as found in the words true and student. In this way, each phrase serves both as a key word and a visual cue for a specific stressed vowel sound. Click on each color to hear the Color Vowel anchor phrase and its corresponding vowel sound.

Why Color Vowel?
More Testimonials
“Blue Canoe and its Color Vowel methodology is brilliant and incredibly effective with my students. I’ve been teaching English to Japanese students for more than a decade, and had never imagined a pronunciation approach could be this good.”
William Keith, Managing Director of Keith Industries, Tokyo, Japan
“We saw that teachers love using the Color Vowel Chart, so Intercambio now includes it in all curriculum we produce. For many English learners here, the CVC has led to life-changing breakthroughs around pronunciation! ”
Lee Shainis, Founder • Intercambio Uniting Communities • Boulder (CO)
“The Color Vowel System is such a fundamentally innovative and effective methodology that we built our company, Blue Canoe Learning, on it. Now anyone with a smart phone can play the Blue Canoe app and leverage the Color Vowel System to improve their English pronunciation. We are making such a wonderful impact on people’s lives, and ELTS and Color Vowel are an integral part of why we are successful!”
Sarah Daniels, CEO of Blue Canoe
“I can't thank you enough for an amazing experience at Color Vowel Basics. The Color Vowel Approach provides the strategy and structure I was looking for on behalf of my students. The work you have done is truly remarkable. It's true that simplicity lies at the far side of complexity.”
Amy Reavey, Literacy Volunteer (NJ)
“I love using the Color Vowel Chart because it works! Student feedback on the system is so positive. I have students who tell me how helpful it has been not only for pronunciation, but also for spelling, specifically for students for whom the Roman alphabet is new. English spelling and pronunciation is challenging, and I am so thankful to have this resource!”
Vanessa S. ESL Teacher, WA
“The Color Vowel Chart allows my actor, broadcaster and executive clients to instantly see the color of the sound they are mispronouncing or mixing. The visual cuing speeds up the recognition time of the sounds! I think the Color Vowel Chart is the most brilliant thing I have ever seen. It has really changed the way we work at the Speech and Accent Academy!”
Lisa Jeffery, Director, The Speech and Accent Academy (FL)
“Who doesn’t love card games? My middle school students find Color it out! extremely engaging and I find it a powerful tool to introduce and review complicated sounds and spellings in English. In fact, I used Color it out! to introduce my students to the Color Vowel Chart before ever "teaching" them about it. I found it a very natural point of entry for the Chart. Since then, we have been exploring additional ways to use the Color it out! cards, such as Dominoes and Go Fish. A fantastic, fun, and very powerful resource!”
Michael Connors, E.L. Haynes Middle School, Washington DC
“The Color Vowel Chart brings attention to the differences among the English vowels--differences that students may not be able to hear. I also like how the Chart has allowed me to incorporate pronunciation into other aspects of my classes. While students are working together on any task, if I hear a major pronunciation problem I can say, "change your vowel from OLIVE to MUSTARD" and the student is able to self correct.”
Jody Gabler, ESL Teacher (NY)
“Color Vowel Basics was phenomenal. I learned an innovative but easy way to teach students about the many different sounds that vowels can make. The Color Vowel Chart is easy to learn and uses the different modalities of learning to reach every type of learner.”
K-12 ESL Teacher, Pueblo City Schools (CO)
simple • deep • engaging

Who uses Color Vowel?

The Color Vowel® Chart is used by English as a Second Language teachers, speech therapists, pronunciation trainers, reading specialists and educators across the US and around the world.

Teachers

We empower teachers with a framework for life-long learning and curiosity about the English language. Join us!

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Schools

We provide schools with cutting-edge professional development and products that transform learning for students and their communities.

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Partners

Our partners are helping spread the word!

Blue Canoe® is our mobile app

Blue Canoe combines the Color Vowel® system with voice recognition and machine learning to provide learners with high-yield pronunciation practice.

With Blue Canoe, students can take their Color Vowel learning experience beyond the classroom. Blue Canoe is available for individual use or at the school level, providing teachers and administrators with a robust dashboard for monitoring student engagement. Visit Blue Canoe to learn more.

Why Blue Canoe?
“It's an amazing app. If you're patient enough, you'll experience how you can improve your pronunciation with Blue Canoe. It takes time, but it definitely works. I'd like to strongly recommend this app!”
John Kwon, Program Manager, Korea
“I am so glad I found Blue Canoe to help me practice speaking English. I never thought learning could be so fun. It's the best app I have ever had.”
Sergio Gonzalez, Customer Support Associate, Mexico
“I spent 10 minutes yesterday playing with Blue Canoe and fell in love with it! I can't wait to introduce it to my students! Thank you!”
Ruth Voetmann, Intensive ESL Instructor and Department Chair, Edmonds College
“Blue Canoe is so simple, and very effective at the same time. I would like all our students to use it! The emphasis on the stress drives home how students can become more natural in their spoken English. The gamified nature is really great. I'm a big fan.”
Martin Petry, Director of Quality Assurance, Hiring and Training, Berlitz Global
“Blue Canoe and its Color Vowel methodology is brilliant and incredibly effective with my students. I’ve been teaching English to Japanese students for more than a decade, and had never imagined a pronunciation approach could be this good.”
William Keith, Managing Director of Keith Industries, Tokyo, Japan
“The Color Vowel System is such a fundamentally innovative and effective methodology that we built our company, Blue Canoe Learning, on it. Now anyone with a smart phone can play the Blue Canoe app and leverage the Color Vowel System to improve their English pronunciation. We are making such a wonderful impact on people’s lives, and ELTS and Color Vowel are an integral part of why we are successful!”
Sarah Daniels, CEO of Blue Canoe
Our Upcoming Events
Color Vowel® Level 1 Basics
On Demand • asynchronous course

Color Vowel Basics© is an asynchronous, self-paced introduction to the Color Vowel® Approach. Complete four video-based modules and taking companion quizzes for each module at your own pace.

Color Vowel® Level 1 Practicum
Get certified! Choose a cohort with dates and times that work for you.

This live, interactive online course immerses you in the use the Color Vowel® Approach and our pronunciation app, Blue Canoe®. Expand your awareness as you master powerful, brain-based strategies for teaching learner pronunciation, vocabulary development, and oral fluency. Post technique practicum videos after each live session and receive personalized feedback from your Color Vowel® Coach.

Pure English Practice (PEP) Workout
Every month • 1st and 3rd Thursdays • 10-10:30 pm ET

Practice the rhythms and sounds of English and boost your speaking confidence with Pure English Practice, a brain-based pronunciation ‘workout’ for English learners. Teachers, invite your learners! Learners, invite your teachers! PEP happens on the first and third Thursday of each month.

To attend Pure English Practice, subscribe here. After subscribing, you will receive reminders and links for our next event.

Speak Confidently!: An English pronunciation course for non-native speakers
Aug 16 - Sept 13, 2022 • Tuesdays 8-9:30 pm

This course is for non-native English-speaking teachers and advanced English learners who wish to increase their comprehensibility and confidence in spoken English.

In this 5-session practice-based course taught by Jennifer Campion, Karen Taylor and their team of Color Vowel pronunciation coaches, participants will engage in a series of brain-based English pronunciation lessons and activities that build awareness of the sounds and rhythms of English for the purpose of being more confident in their spoken English.

English Learner Literacy: a 1-day workshop with Dr. Robin Barr and guests
September 2, 2022 • Friday, 10 am - 2 pm ET

English Learners struggle with traditional phonics programs. Learn how to use Color Vowel tools and strategies to help learners succeed.

This workshop is appropriate for ESL/EFL teachers, tutors, and reading specialists. No prior training in the Color Vowel® Approach is necessary.

Unable to attend live? This workshop will be recorded and and shared privately with all registrants. We have structured the workshop for live participation in a way that supports an enriching asynchronous experience!

Workshop Description
Whether you are a teacher, a literacy volunteer, a learning coach, or a teacher educator, this workshop will provide you with new insights and effective strategies that you can use right away.

In this one-day workshop with Dr. Robin Barr and special guests, participants will gain insight into what a good phonics program can achieve, where all phonics programs fall short, and how Color Vowels bridge the gap.

Workshop activities will include:

  • Understanding low literacy: Why do some learners struggle?
  • Introducing low-literacy learners to Color Vowels
  • Objects as friendly first words: Creating your menagerie
  • Three activities for building phonemic awareness
  • Speaking to write and writing to read: Learner-created books
Sound Awareness: A Level 2 Core workshop
September 9-30, 2022 • Fridays 1-2:30 pm ET

Phonological awareness is a person’s awareness of the sounds, rhythms, and intonations they use when speaking and when listening to the speech of others.

In this practice-based workshop, Dr. Robin Barr will lead participants through a series of discovery activities and mini-lectures aimed at increasing teachers’ sound awareness for the purpose of English language teaching.

This course is for teachers with Color Vowel® Level 1 certification and is a required course for Level 2 certification.

Color Vowel® Yoga: A Level 2 Core Workshop
Sept 10 - Oct 1, 2022 • Saturdays, 9-10:30 am ET

Color Vowel® Yoga is a collection of simple movements that parallel the movement of the jaw, lips, and tongue when producing the vowel sounds of English. These movements serve as physical anchors for producing sounds that the learner may not yet be able to perceive. In this practice-based workshop, participants increase their own phonological awareness as they gain confidence in leading Vowel Yoga and learn when to use Vowel Yoga as an instructional intervention.

This Level 2 workshop is open to Level 1 certified teachers or teachers currently enrolled in a Level 1 Color Vowel® Certification course.

Fundamentals of Teaching Spoken English (workshop series)
September through November, various dates and times

ELTS is proud to offer three new workshops for teachers this fall: Fundamentals of Intonation (September), Fundamentals of Thought Groups & Phrasing (October), and Fundamentals of Conversation Repair (November).

Vocabulary beyond word lists: A Level 2 elective workshop
October 6-27, 2022 • Thursdays 2-3:30 pm ET

Do you dread having to teach vocabulary? Do your students seem to forget vocabulary as soon as you move on to the next unit? In this 4-session workshop, we will approach vocabulary from a sound perspective to appreciate how word learning intersects with pronunciation, collocation, and the aural context. Participants will gain practical strategies to boost learner retention through both incidental and deliberate teaching.

Spelling Exploration: A Level 2 Core Workshop
October 8-29, 2022• Saturdays 9-10:30 am ET

Learn how taking a sound-based approach to spelling empowers learners to notice patterns and engage in life-long language discovery.

In this 4-week online workshop, participants will:

  • Explore ‘the problem of English’ as it relates to teaching spelling in ESL/EFL contexts;
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the Color Vowel Organizer for the purpose of connecting the spoken and written word.
  • Learn how to lead learners in a sound-based “spelling exploration” through use of the Spelling Exploration Worksheet, a simple but powerful graphic organizer.
  • Gain extensive practice in the Color Vowel® word mark-up method.
  • Conduct their own spelling explorations as a means of gaining practical insight into the way English works.
Level 2 Coaching Practicum
Oct 19 - Dec 14, 2022 • Wednesdays 1-2:30 pm ET

Gain pronunciation coaching experience and insight throughout this 8-week experience.

During the first two weeks, you will be trained to listen, identify, prioritize, and address learner pronunciation challenges by utilizing Color Vowel® strategies taught in the Level 2 Core workshops.

During the next five weeks, you will participate as a Coach in Speak Confidently!, our learner pronunciation course taught by Jennifer Campion and Karen Taylor. Working closely with your practicum mentor and coaching cohort, you will lead select class activities and provide weekly feedback to between 1-3 students enrolled in the course.

A final meeting on the eighth week provides us with an opportunities to reflect on lessons taught and lessons learned.

Prerequisites: All level 2 Core courses: Color Vowel Yoga, Spelling Exploration, Rhythm & Chants, and Sound Awareness.

Level 1 trained teachers may audit this course.

Speak Confidently!: An English pronunciation course for non-native speakers
Nov 2 - Dec 7, 2022 • Wednesdays, 1-2:30

This course is for non-native English-speaking teachers and advanced English learners who wish to increase their comprehensibility and confidence in spoken English.

In this 5-session practice-based course taught by Jennifer Campion, Karen Taylor and their team of Color Vowel pronunciation coaches, participants will engage in a series of brain-based English pronunciation lessons and activities that build awareness of the sounds and rhythms of English for the purpose of being more confident in their spoken English.

Course Dates

This is a five-week course that meets on Wednesdays from 1-2:30 pm ET.

Due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no class on Wednesday, November 23rd. Our live session dates are therefore November 2, 9, 16, 30, and December 7.

Teaching Literacy: A Level 2 elective workshop
Nov 4 - Dec 2, 2022 • Fridays, 1-2:30 pm ET

THE PROBLEM: English Learners struggle with phonics.

In a phonics framework, letters are treated as the primary or basic units for learning to read. However, because English does not have a one-to-one correspondence of sound to symbol, phonics instruction in English requires the learner to ‘sound out’ all the possible pronunciations of a spelling until they happen to hear a word they recognize. This process crucially depends on the learner already possessing a well-developed oral vocabulary to which they can connect the words they are trying to decode.

English learners, with their limited English vocabularies, need intervention that boosts their oral/aural word recognition as they learn to make use of the English spelling patterns presented in a high-quality phonics program.

THE SOLUTION: Complement phonics with Color Vowel Approach (CVA) strategies.

The Color Vowel Approach starts with oral words and phonemes as primary. The spellings of those sounds are treated as inherently secondary, mirroring natural language development in which the alphabet, reading, and writing, stem from spoken language.

Guided by Dr. Robin Barr, lead instructor at the Washington Literacy Center, participants will explore practical ways to enhance phonics programs with Color Vowel strategies.

Readers Theater: Rehearsing for fluency
Nov 9 - Dec 7, 2022 • Wednesdays, 7-8:30 pm ET

Readers Theater (RT) is a group read-aloud in which individuals perform level-appropriate scripts to tell a story cooperatively. Participants will learn how RT supports development of the learner’s external reading voice (rate, vocabulary, and pronunciation/ comprehensibility) as well as their “internal” reading voice (the voice they “hear” when reading silently), thereby strengthening both oral fluency and reading fluency.

Participants will learn how to guide students through a Readers Theater project from preparation to presentation. They will explore ways that maximize the repetition and noticing necessary to improve fluency in both reading and speaking. Participants will also review the suprasegmental skills of speaking: thought groups, focus words, linking, reduction, and intonation.

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