Decoding can be very laborious for the beginner reader. Here are a few tips that can make the experience successful and rewarding:
- Bedtime is not the best time to get a child to read, as decoding can be very tiring. Try after school or first thing in the morning.
- Do this in short bursts. Reading is exhausting for beginner readers.
- Encourage the learner to blend the sounds (say sounds and push them together) throughout the word.
- Be patient – give the child time to work the word out by sounding it out.
- If a child has omitted sounds or inserted sounds into a word, point out where this has happened so that graphemes (letters) and phonemes (sounds) match. Give the child the opportunity to self-correct.
- If the child does not know the sound of a grapheme (letter or combination of letters), tell him/her what it is, but let the child blend it into the word himself/herself.
- High-frequency words are common words, some of which have complex spellings. Beginner readers may have difficulty decoding them. To help with these words, point to the graphemes (letters) and say the sounds and, if the child is not ready to read it, or has difficulty blending the sounds together, then say the word for him/her. In time the child will begin to recognize these words.
- Read each sentence for the child after he/she has decoded it in order to help comprehension.
- Explain the new words.
- Discuss the theme of the book and relate it to his/her personal experience.
Saying the sounds in a word and pushing them together into a recognizable word
Reading – working out the letter sounds and pushing them together (blending them together) to say the word
The sound the letter or group of letters (grapheme) represents
A letter or group of letters that represent a sound (phoneme):
- <c> in ‘cat’ is a one-letter grapheme that represents the sound or phoneme ‘k’
- <ai> in ‘rain’ is a two-letter grapheme that represents the sound or phoneme ‘ae’
- <igh>in ‘night’ is a three-letter grapheme that represents the sound or phoneme ‘ie’
- <ough> in ‘though’ is a four-letter grapheme that represents the sound of phoneme ‘oe’