Instruction in Word Attack Skills is Needed
Many schools cease decoding instruction by the third grade. This is sufficient for many students, but often poses a challenge for those with reading difficulties. Struggling readers can derive enormous benefit from direct instruction in decoding the longer and more difficult words encountered in later grades. There are a number of techniques which can help facilitate this process.
Provide explicit instruction in recognition of common affixes (prefixes and suffixes). 80% of multi-syllable words contain one or the other or both.
Provide repeated practice reading affixes, vowel teams, and common word roots in isolation. Have students do timed reading of drill sheets containing just the isolated word parts (i.e. dis-, mis-, -ful, -ness,-ment, ject, cept, struct, au, ar, ir, etc.). The goal is to build quick visual recognition of the smaller segments that comprise larger words.
Teach segmenting of longer words into decodable chunks. Rather than approaching a word like disrespectfully as a whole, once taught the prefixes dis and re and the suffixes ful and ly, the student is able to first break the word into more manageable chunks dis re spect ful ly, and then read the word as a whole.
There are two effective ways to practice this segmenting skill. One is to provide a list of words containing learned affixes and having the student first circle the prefixes and suffixes in each word. Then, read the individual word parts, and finally read the whole word.
Another technique is to create a list of words in columns with spaces separating the word parts. (i.e. re pay ment). Once the student is comfortable reading words containing the visible spaces to delineate word parts, transition them to columns of words without the spaces. With repeated drill and practice, both techniques strengthen speed and accuracy in reading multi-syllable words.