The Color Vowel® Journey

Welcome to your Color Vowel Journey.

Color Vowel® started its own journey over twenty years ago as this thing we called the Color Vowel Chart. Over time, it has evolved into a powerful collection of instructional strategies known today as the Color Vowel Approach.

We are proud to provide you with the Color Vowel® Journey, a comprehensive training program that promotes life-long learning and curiosity around the topics of effective teaching, phonological awareness, brain-based learning strategies, and the English language itself!

Where along the Journey are you?
Download your own interactive checklist!

Are you new to teaching with Color Vowel?
Get started here!

Our Level 1 program provides you with a foundation for teaching English that has been missing from our field: a simple yet robust way to teach the rhythm and sounds of English. Combining the content of Color Vowel Basics with practical explorations of our mobile app, Blue Canoe, and a video-based technique practicum, our Level 1: Color Vowel Basics Online course satisfies all three requirements of the Level 1 certificate.

Our Level 2 program guides you through a deeper exploration of concepts introduced in Color Vowel Basics, and invites you to apply Color Vowel in settings relevant to your own teaching context. Level 2 involves completing three prescribed Core workshops, three Elective workshops, and a two-stage Practicum.

Complete these Core Workshops

Your Level 2 journey starts with three Core workshops, each one engaging a different part of the brain. Core workshops may be completed in any order.

View upcoming workshop dates and times.

Purchase our Level 2 Core Workshops Bundle and save!

Color Vowel Yoga is a collection of simple movements that parallel the movement of the jaw, lips, and tongue when producing the vowels sounds of English. These movements serve as physical anchors for producing sounds that the learner may not yet be able to perceive. In this Core Workshop, participants gain confidence in leading Vowel Yoga and will develop a clear understanding of when to use Vowel Yoga as an instructional intervention.

Spelling Exploration is a sound-based exploration of spelling patterns that ignite learners’ optimism and curiosity about words in their spoken and written forms. In this Core Workshop, participants will gain practical familiarity with each step of the process and explore pedagogical implications.

Rhythms & Chants is a workshop in which participants learn how chants support brain-based language learning; view authentic footage of learners engaging with chants; practice pre-viewing, leading and closing a chant with clear gestures; and master three Color Vowel chants and their variations.

Complete 3 Elective Workshops

Elective workshops vary in topic and theme. All workshops are practical and are designed around a performance-based outcomes. Elective Workshops include:

  • Readers Theater: Rehearsing for fluency – Readers Theater is a group read-aloud in which individuals perform level-appropriate scripts to tell a story cooperatively. Participants learn how to guide students through a Readers Theater project from preparation to presentation. We explore ways that maximize the repetition and noticing necessary to improve fluency in both reading and speaking while gaining a deeper understanding of suprasegmental skills such as thought groups, focus words, linking, reduction, and intonation.
  • Teaching Vocabulary: Beyond word lists – 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 taught by Jennifer Campion, we approach vocabulary from a sound perspective to appreciate how word learning intersects with pronunciation, collocation, and the aural context. Participants gain practical strategies to boost learner retention through both incidental and deliberate teaching.
  • Sound Awareness: Ear training for language teachers -Phonological (sound) 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 leads participants through a series of discovery activities and mini-lectures aimed at increasing teachers’ sound awareness for the purpose of English language teaching.
  • Colorful Integrations: Bringing textbooks to life – Does your textbook have you feeling text-bound? Are your students looking at language more than using it? Karen Taylor and Shirley Thompson will introduce strategies that help you make the most of your textbook through Color Vowel mark-ups, activity integrations, and more.
  • What About Consonants?: Prioritizing feedback for comprehensibility – English has 24 distinct consonant sounds. It’s easy to think that we should teach each one of them, but what if you discovered that some consonants matter more than others? In this workshop taught by Karen Taylor, participants learn which consonants matter most and under what circumstances they should receive priority while gaining effective strategies for helping learners with tricky consonants.
  • Teaching Literacy: Enhancing Phonics with Color Vowel – Low-literacy English learners need interventions 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. With Dr. Robin Barr, workshop participants learn what a phonics program does — and doesn’t– provide learners while experimenting with Color Vowel® strategies that support literacy development and success.

View upcoming workshop dates and times.

Coaching & Teaching Practicum

Apply what you learned in Color Vowel Basics while gaining teaching experience with guidance from a Color Vowel Master Trainer.

  1. CV Coaching Practicum: Gain pronunciation coaching experience and insight throughout this 6-week experience as you support participants in our Speak Confidently pronunciation workshop. Working closely with your practicum mentor, you will lead select class activities and provide feedback for up to 3 students enrolled in our pronunciation workshop.
    • Prerequisite: Completion of all Level 2 Core workshops.
  2. CV Teaching Practicum: This Level 2 capstone experience  involves working closely with a Practicum Mentor over the course of 6-8 weeks as you develop a Color Vowel® integrated lesson plan, record yourself teaching that lesson*, and complete a detailed reflection on your own teaching.
    • Prerequisite: All Level 2 workshops and the Level 2 Coaching Practicum must be completed before you engage in the Level 2 Teaching Practicum.

*Teaching Practicum candidates must currently be teaching (online or in person) in order to participate in the Teaching Practicum, and they must be prepared to acquire permission from their students and/or their institution to provide Color Vowel/ELTS with video recorded lessons that show teacher-student interaction.


Level 3 qualifies you to be a licensed trainer in the Color Vowel Approach and provides you with opportunities to deliver Level 2 Core and Elective workshops for ELTS. Level 3 involves successful completion of our Trainers’ Seminar of a two-part Apprenticeship.

The Color Vowel® Training Seminar includes the following topics:

  • Teaching phonological awareness: a developmental view of teacher training;
  • The curse of the expert: Maintaining spaces for noticing and discovery;
  • Answering questions, both simple and deep, with the Color Vowel Chart;
  • Public speaking: Connecting with your audience in person and online;
  • Tools and strategies for effective online teaching.

To fully prepare the Color Vowel® Teacher Trainer, we have created a three-part apprenticeship consisting of:

  • Coaching Apprenticeship: Serving as a practicum coach for Color Vowel® Basics Complete or a comparable course;
  • Training Apprenticeship: Teaching a round of Color Vowel® Basics Complete;
  • Capstone Project: Here, you will work closely with ELTS to make a substantive contribution to Color Vowel® resources, training materials, or learning resources.

You are provided with the support of a Master Trainer throughout the Level 3 Apprenticeship.

ALL Upcoming Courses
Level 1 Color Vowel 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 Basics training fulfills one of three requirements for Level 1 certification. Learn more about Level 1 certification requirements here.

Colorful Integrations: Bringing ESL/EFL textbooks to life
June 2-30, 2022 • Thursdays, 10-11:30 am ET

During this 4-week workshop with Karen Taylor and Shirley Thompson, participants will:

  • Identify the strengths and limitations of print and online materials;
  • Use Color Vowel mark-ups to enhance activities;
  • Adapt textbook activities to boost speaking practice opportunities;
  • Enhance textbook content through the use of rhythms and chants;
  • Create simple online activities enhanced with Color Vowel images and references.
Level 1 Basics and Color Vowel® Certification • Cohort 41
August 6-27, 2022 • Saturdays 9-10:30 am ET

Lynn SwandaColor Vowel Complete combines asynchronous learning with live training to immerse you in the use the Color Vowel® Approach and our pronunciation app, Blue Canoe. During this 4-week course with Karen Taylor, you will learn how to use powerful, brain-based strategies to teach learner pronunciation, vocabulary development, and oral fluency. Color Vowel Complete fulfills ALL of the requirements for Level 1 certification.

Lynn Swanda has extensive experience teaching English to non-native speakers of all ages and levels for over 25 years. She has a Master of Education in ESL and has lived and worked overseas in Belgium, Germany, Thailand, and South Korea for the majority of her teaching career where she taught in both local and international schools, as well as managing ESL departments. Currently, she resides in Oklahoma City and teaches at Oklahoma City Community College. Lynn is a Color Vowel Certified Level 2 Teacher.

Rhythm & Chants: A Level 2 Core Workshop
August 10-31, 2022 • Wednesdays, 1-2:30 pm ET

Learn how to preview, lead, and close chants with learners using existing chants and modified chants. Course participants will:

  • Learn how recognize and develop chants at the word, phrase, and sentence level;
  • Practice priming, leading and closing a chant with clear gestures;
  • Master three Color Vowel chants and their variations;
  • Implement the principles of followability, stickiness, and usefulness in their chants.
  • Learn when and how chants are most effective in a lesson.

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