Using a phonetic approach to reading instruction calls for building awareness that sounds are associated with letters, and letters can be combined to make syllables and words. There are various ways that words can be made using letters. In addition to these phonetic techniques, students also can benefit from exposure to a whole word method of learning to read. Part of the whole word method involves memorizing lists of words. Multisensory reading instruction can be used to teach both the phonetic and whole word types of reading lessons.
The phonetic method is one where words are created from letters that are directly related to sounds that they represent. Words can be blended or segmented. Word families such as an, and, all, ick, and ill are the basis for words that have prefixes and suffixes that transform words into another word.
Here are some words that reading teachers use to describe some essential skills of reading instruction.
Blending words-- As early readers start to decode words, they do it slowly as they sound the words out. Then, they start saying the sounds more quickly, so that the sounds blend together. They have joined the sounds to make a word.
Segmenting words-- This involves breaking words down into their smaller individual sounds. These component sounds can indicate phonological awareness in children. Often, the initial sounds are the first to be segmented, due to their ease in identification.
Prefixes-- Prefixes are letters that are appended to the beginning of a word. They cannot stand as words, but change the meaning of the base word. Just four prefixes are affixed to base words for 97 percent of the English words that are made with prefixes. Those prefixes are dis, re, super, and un.
Suffixes-- Suffixes are letters that are appended to the ending of a word. They cannot stand as words, but change the meaning of the base word. The most common suffixes are ed, ing, ly, and es.
Homonyms, Homographs, and Homophones-- The prefix homo means the same.
Homonyms-are spelled the same way. Homonyms are pronounced the same way, but the meanings are different. Here is one that is spelled and pronounced the same way. Bear can mean a large, furry mammal. It can also mean to bring forth. Bit can be a piece of metal that is placed in the mouth of a horse. It is also a small amount of something or the past tense of the word bite.
A homograph-is written the same way as another word, and both words are pronounced differently. The words have different meanings. Desert can mean to leave alone, but that spelling is also used to denote a hot, dry, sandy tract of land. The spelling bat can mean a flying mammal or a piece of ash used to hit a baseball.
Homophones-are spelled differently and pronounced the same way, but the words have different meanings. Doe and dough are pronounced the same way. A doe is a young deer, while dough is used to make bread. Deer and dear are pronounced the same way. A deer is a ruminant animal. Dear is a term for somebody who is loved. There, they're, and their belong to a homophone group. They sound alike, are spelled differently, and have different meanings.
Sight words- This is a generic term for sequenced lists of words that are frequently used. These words are memorized to help children learn to read more effectively. Dolch and Fry are two well-known lists of sight words.
Dolch words- This is a list of 220 words that are divided by grade level. There are also an additional 95 words.
Multisensory reading instruction- This method uses multiple sensory inputs to teach reading. Sight, hearing, movement, and touch can all be used. A frequently used multisensory technique is writing letters and words in shaving cream, pudding, or sand.
Knowing the language of reading instruction can improve communications between the family and the school. If an instructor uses a term that you do not know, stop them, and ask for a definition. You can only make informed decisions about your child's education if you can have effective conversations with the people who are teaching her.
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