Teaching Strategies and Examples: Sounding Out Words
Instructional Design Considerations
Use the following systematic progression to teach word reading to make the important steps involved in reading a word apparent:
- Students orally produce each sound in a word and sustain that sound as they progress to the next.
- Students must be taught to put those sounds together to make a whole word.
- Students sound out the letter-sound correspondences "in their head" or silently and then produce the whole word.
Each step must be modeled and practiced!!
For students to learn and apply knowledge of letter-sound correspondences and use that knowledge to reliably decode words, words must be carefully selected for both (a) the letters in the words, and (b) the complexity of the words.
Letters in words for initial sounding-out instruction should:
- consist of continuous sounds as these sounds can be prolonged in the voice stream.
- be ones students know.
Words in sounding-out practice and instruction should:
- progress from short vowel-consonant and consonant-vowel-consonant (2- or 3-letter) words in which letters represent their most common sounds to longer words (4- or 5-phoneme words) in which letters represent their most common sound.
- not contain consonant blends (e.g., /st/, /tr/, /pl/) until students are proficient with consonant-vowel-consonant configurations.
- begin with continuous sounds in early exercises to facilitate blending. Stop sounds may be used in final positions of words.
- represent vocabulary and concepts with which students are familiar.
Simple Regular Words - Listed According to Difficulty
|Word Type||Reason for Relative Ease/Difficulty||Examples|
|VC and CVC words that begin with continuous sounds||Words begin with a continuous sound||it, fan|
|VCC and CVCC words that begin with a continuous sound||Words are longer and end with a consonant blend||lamp, ask|
|CVC words that begin with a stop sound||Words begin with a stop sound||cup, tin|
|CVCC words that begin with a stop sound||Words begin with a stop sound and end with a consonant blend||dust, hand|
|CCVC||Words begin with a consonant blend||crib, blend, snap, flat|
|CCVCC, CCCVC, and CCCVCC||Words are longer||clamp, spent, scrap, scrimp|
- Prior to reading the words, review the letter-sound correspondences that have been recently introduced or are problematic for learners.
- As you progress to each new phase of word reading (sounding out > saying whole word > sounding out the word in your head), students may need a reminder of the procedure.
- Once students learn a number of word types (e.g., CVC with continuous, CVCC with continuous, CVC with stop), include examples of all taught word types in the list.
- Keep the word lists to a manageable length (6-8 words per list).