6 Tips for Making Decoding Words Easy
Tip #1 – Start with the 1000 Most Common Words
There are hundreds of thousands of words in the English language. How do you teach a student all of those words or even most of them? The 1000 most common English Words comprise 85% of everything we read. If you want to be efficient, you should begin by teaching these 1000 most common words as we do in our program.
Tip #2 – Sort the Words: Phonetically Regular vs. Phonetically Irregular
There are two types of words. There are those that are phonetically regular and those which are not. Sixty-five percent of the 1000 most frequently used English words are phonetically regular. If you can sound them out, you can decode the word. Thirty-five percent of the words are phonetically irregular. You cannot sound them out to decode them. Sort the words into their two piles. Introduce the phonetically regular words as you teach the sounds that will allow the student to unlock them.
Tip #3 – Plan your Phonics Carefully
Reduce the number of sounds and sound combinations to the smallest possible number. Our program uses only 63 sounds & sound combinations to teach all of the words in the English language. The order in which you teach the sounds is critical. Separate sounds which look and/or sound similar from one another (b,d,p,q). See our scope and sequence chart for teaching phonics on our website.
Tip # 4 – Teach One Sound for Each Symbol or Set of Symbols
Teach each sound or sound combination so that it has one and only one sound. For vowels, which always can make 2 sounds, (sound & name) put a bar over the vowel when it says its name. Leave the bar off when it says its sound. Now the student can tell the difference. If the sound or sound combination makes a different sound, remove that word from the phonetically regular pile and add it to the irregular pile.
Tip #5 – Teach the Sounds Before You Use Them in Words
All sounds and sound combinations must be taught in isolation before they are introduced as part of a word. The student must know every sound in a phonetically regular word before that word is added to the program.
Tip #6 – Teach Short Versus Continuous Sounds
Some sounds (e.g. mmm) can be held for as long as you have breath. Others (e.g. t, ck) cannot be held at all. If you attempt to hold them, you simply wind up adding a vowel to the end of the sound. (e.g. tuu). Teach students the difference between short and continuous sounds. Put a dot under each continuous sound. Put a chevron under each short sound. Make students learn to hold continuous sounds for a half second at least.
You could now sit down and write a pretty good reading program if you used the tips given above. You could also save yourself a lot of time and effort and simply try out our program for free at www.maloneymethod.com