Best Practices: Color Vowel Chart


The Color Vowel Chart, developed by Karen Taylor and Shirley Thompson (2009), is a powerful visual tool that allows learners to focus on stress and rhythm and identify the vowel sounds of spoken English.  Each vowel sound is represented by both a color and an object, such as “green tea,” making the colors easier to remember. The chart gives teachers a common frame of reference for talking about vowel sounds without having to use IPA symbols.  The shape of the chart represents the vocal tract making it easier for students to reproduce the sound correctly.


I have used the Color Vowel Chart in Speaking and Listening classes and in Reading Writing class.  When a student is confused about the pronunciation of a word, such as ‘encourage’, first we identify the stressed syllable (‘cour’), then the color of that syllable (purple).  Once students have learned the ‘colors’ and how to listen for the primary stress in a word, they rapidly improve their pronunciation.

This tool has been a great benefit in all of my ESL classes.

  • Taylor, Karen, and Shirley Thompson. (2009). The Color Vowel™ Chart. English Language Training Solutions, LLC, Santa Fe NM.
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