Importance of Word Decoding Skills

Importance of Word Decoding Skills and Decoding Strategies for Students

Early basic skills in reading development set the stage for eventual success in reading. It takes time, deliberate practice, and feedback from an experienced teacher to develop these skills. A reading teacher teaches students how to decode and develop automatic word identification, just like a coach teaches a basketball player how to dribble and shoot the ball. It is impossible to overstate the significance of decoding; Share (1997) defined it as the essential process for learning words in alphabetic language. This is significant because automatic word recognition follows successful decoding. Thus, the key to good reading is understanding how to assist readers with basic decoding skills.

You presumably know what decoding and word recognition are, as well as how to educate students to decode and instantly recognize the words written on the page, if you have experience teaching in lower grades, such as first or second. If you teach in upper elementary, middle, or high school, though, you most likely did not receive much instruction in your teacher preparation program about how to help readers who are developing automatic word recognition and decoding skills, even though you have undoubtedly worked with students who need assistance in doing so.

What is Decoding and Word Decoding?

The capacity to accurately pronounce written words through the application of letter-sound correlations, particularly letter pattern knowledge, is known as decoding. By quickly matching a letter or combination of letters (graphemes) to their letter sounds (phonemes) and having the ability to identify the patterns that form syllables and words, decoding entails converting written text into spoken language.

Children who comprehend these connections are better able to "sound out" or "decode" unknown words they haven't seen before and recognize familiar terms more rapidly. Reading, spelling, and correctly pronouncing new words all depend on having decoding skills.

For instance, the letter p is taught to children to stand for the sound /p/ and to be the first letter in words like "position," "pat," and "paw." Children can sound out and read (decode) new words after they grasp the concept of sound-letter correspondence.

On the other hand, decoding words in reading teaches kids the connection between spoken words and individual letters or letter combinations. It is a fundamental reading ability. Since knowing letter patterns and sounds enables students to eventually concentrate on higher-level literacy abilities, like comprehension and writing, basic decoding skills are crucial for students learning to read.

One essential ability that forms the basis of phonological awareness is word decoding, together with phonics and phonemic awareness. Children with phonological skills are better able to understand that words are composed of phonemes, or sounds, which are represented by various letters.

Word Decoding Skills

Word decoding requires a variety of skills, including:

  • The first step toward English language literacy is learning the alphabet. Students can proceed to increasingly complex ideas after they are familiar with both individual letters and letter sounds.
  • Students who possess phonemic and phonological abilities find it easier to decode words since they can identify the various sounds that make up words.
  • Children are better prepared for independent reading when they learn to blend and sound out letters and phonemes. They need to be able to separate phonemes from complicated words in order to succeed.

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How Can You Boost Word Decoding Skills?

Tips for parents:

Not all education takes place in a classroom. Word decoding skills in reading can also be improved at home with games and activities that focus on phonological and phonemic awareness! Here are some easy ones to give a try:

  • I Spy: Let your kids find items in the room that begin with a certain letter or sound by choosing one. Say "I spy with my small eye, something that starts with.../t/," for instance. (Note: Letters enclosed in a "/" symbol indicate the phoneme sound rather than the letter itself). "Table," "toy," "television," and so on could be responses.
  • Grab some magnetic letters or alphabet blocks to help you sound it out. Use the magnetic letters or blocks to spell out a simple word, such as "cat." Once you and your child have sounded out the first word, change one of the letters to, say, "bat," "cut," or "cap." Check to see if your kid can pronounce the new word.
  • Promote Writing: Reading and writing are the finest ways to acquire the fundamentals of letter sounds and to practice word decoding. To assist them practise decoding, encourage your youngster to write letters or descriptions on pictures.
  • Read Together: Try starting a daily reading exercise where your child reads to you instead of the other way around. Although it may be difficult, try to let them attempt to sound out phrases they are unsure about before offering assistance! You are the only person your child feels more at ease around, so by providing a secure environment in which they may practice pronouncing words, you'll boost their self-assurance.

Tips for teachers:

Teaching difficult subjects to young children is difficult. To make studying feel more like a game than a chore, try combining engaging learning activities with a multisensory approach. For educators who are having trouble teaching their pupils to decode words, consider these types of activities:

  • Blending pool noodles involves chopping them into round pieces and placing them on a bar together. On each section of noodles, write a phoneme or a letter. First, divide the noodles into separate portions and ask the pupils to pronounce each letter or phoneme separately. As you slowly bring them closer together, ask the students to do the same with their sounds. Students can practice segmenting and combining letters or phonemes with this exercise.
  • Draw Words: Have children write new words as they are presented, encircling the word with an illustration. Creating an airplane around the word "fly" or a cookie out of the word "eat" are two examples. By incorporating imagery into the task, you can improve your students' retention of word patterns and spelling.
  • Musical Syllables: As you read various words, give each student a little musical instrument, such as a drumstick or shaker, and have them tap out each syllable. Students can tackle longer assignments more easily by learning about syllables.

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The Importance of Word Decoding in Reading

Students' reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension of what they read will all be hampered if they are unable to decode words. All additional reading teaching is based on the decoding skills in reading basis. Students need to acquire the skill of decoding in order to become proficient readers.

The majority of reading specialists concur that phonemic awareness—the capacity to perceive, distinguish, and work with individual sounds, or phonemes, in spoken words—is the most important talent required for successful reading. Integrating phonemic awareness with written language requires decoding.

Even though decoding is a taught talent, there are a number of reasons why some pupils may find it difficult to pick up the skill. These include having trouble grasping the relationship between letters and sounds, having poor visual memory, or having weak phonemic awareness.

Effective Decoding Strategies and Activities for Emerging Readers

For simple words like VC and CVC words, segmenting and blending are sufficient; however, pupils dealing with more complex words will probably need to use additional decoding strategies for reading. There are 6 main decoding strategies however below we have explained a few that will really help you to select your own main strategy.


When learning to read, kids begin by honing two skills: segmenting and blending. Students must initially segment the sounds when they encounter a word they are unfamiliar with. Instruct them to begin from the left and sound out each word as they travel to the right using their finger.


Students can combine the sounds to pronounce the word after segmenting. When they blend the sounds to say the word, teach them to move their finger from left to right over each sound.

Slicing & Word Segments

Understanding word components is a beneficial decoding strategies for struggling readers for pupils who are working with more difficult or multisyllabic words. Pupils can search for spelling patterns they are familiar with, underline bases and roots, and circle affixes.

Let's examine the definition of a word, for instance.

Pupils can circle the component that ends in-tion if they can recognize it. The Latin root is definite there may or may not be recognized by them as well. First, students can attempt dividing syllables, chunking out the sections they know, and applying the spot and dot technique.

Dividing Syllables

Dividing words into individual syllables and splitting up multisyllabic words is a very useful skill. Students can identify patterns and divide syllables by drawing a line between the vowels and consonants. The vowels can then be classified as long or short. Students must be conversant with the six syllable kinds for this to be effective.

Including Some of the Word

At the dyslexia school, we also employed the method of hiding some letters with our fingers in order to reveal another section. Looking at the entire term would often overwhelm students. We would ask them to use their fingers to decipher sounds one at a time or in chunks. As they decode the first sound or chunk, they go over the remainder of the word. They then cover the remainder of the word with their finger as they slide it to decipher the subsequent sound or chunk.

Activities for Decoding Words

You want students to practice these decoding techniques after they have been taught. To hone these abilities, try some of these word decoding exercises.

Decipherable Books

A fantastic approach in decoding strategies for reading to reinforce phonics lessons and practice word decoding is with decodable books. A decodable tale is typically included with curriculum and exercises, but you can also obtain books and passages to add to the lesson. You might even create your own!

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