“There are slight differences within each short-vowel sound, For example, in the lesson on “r” the word ra-n shows up. I’ve been reading him /a/ as in apple, so “ran” sounds awkward when he says it more like “rahn.” Should I tell him the “a” makes a few sounds, correct “rahn” to ran, or just say nothing?”
Yes, there certainly are subtle differences in the short-vowel sounds, especially in regional parts of our country!
That’s why it’s important to have multiple pictures beginning with the vowel illustrating each letter. We wanted people to know the full range of sounds, and felt it important to include them—especially for English Language Learners. But for everyone, really!
Just have him pronounce it the best he can, and test his knowledge by using the “Short Sheet of Vowels” exercise on page 256. You say the word, and have him point to the correct vowel heading or write the letter or word under the correct heading. It’s a foolproof way for you to know if they know it! ~Dolores