This sound is /ŏ/, as in the word 'author.'

This sound is /ŏ/, as in the word 'author.' This letter combination makes an interesting sound because not everyone in America pronounces it the same way. Linguists call this the “cot-caught merger.” In some regions, people tend to say those two vowel sounds differently, like “I slept on a cot” and “She caught the ball.” But in other regions, people pronounce them the same: like “I slept on a /cŏt/” and “She /cŏt/ the ball.” If you make a distinction between those sounds, but your student doesn’t, there’s no need to correct that pronunciation. Similarly, if your student distinguishes those sounds, but it’s not natural for you to do so, don’t panic. Your student will make the adjustment as they read this letter combination within words that they know. Be sure to read the example sentences for each word to help them recognize it as a word that’s in their lexicon. The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents this phoneme with the following symbol: ɔ. By this point in Once’s curriculum, the instructional content renders this letter combination as ‘au’ in Times New Roman font. In these middle stages of the curriculum, the instructional content will have phased out the specialized orthography that helped beginning readers (pre-kindergarten students through early elementary grades) learn letter-sound correspondence more quickly.