What's Important in Reading?
Everyone—parents, teachers, and politicians—has an opinion on what’s important in reading instruction. Often the debate centers on phonics: Some people believe that phonics is the most important factor because students need to be able to decode the words they’re reading, but others consider phonics to be less important than comprehension because the purpose of reading is to make meaning from text. The view taken in this text is that there are five important factors in developing capable readers:
- Word identification
Teachers address all five of these factors through direct instruction, by reading aloud to students every day, and by providing daily opportunities for students to read books at their own reading level.
Capable readers have a large bank of words that they recognize instantly and automatically because they can’t stop and analyze every word as they read (LaBerge & Samuels, 1976). Students learn to read phonetically regular words, such as baking and first, and high-frequency words, such as there and would. In addition, they learn word-identification strategies to figure out unfamiliar words they encounter while reading. They use phonic analysis to read raid, strap, and other phonetically regular words, syllabic analysis to read jungle, election, and other multisyllabic words, and morphemic analysis to read omnivorous, millennium, and other words with Latin and Greek word parts. Through a combination of instruction and reading practice, students’ knowledge of words continues to grow.
Phonics, the set of phoneme-grapheme relationships, is an important part of word-identification instruction in the primary grades, but it’s only one part of word identification because English is not an entirely phonetic language. During the primary grades, children also learn to recognize at least 300 high-frequency words, such as what, said, and come, that can’t be sounded out. Older students learn more sophisticated word-identification strategies about dividing words into syllables and recognizing root words and affixes.
© ______ 2006, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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