Essay on Word Recognition Instruction

Published: 2021/12/06
Number of words: 1216

The process of learning how to read new words is a complex one. Goodman, an early literacy theorist postulated that the process of learning how to read is like that of learning how to speak. Children learn how to speak when they are spoken to and therefore, they can learn how to read in a similar manner, when they are read to. It is important for children to understand the nexus that exists between various syllables, symbols or sounds so that they are able to read words out loud (Kilpatrick, 2015). When a child sounds out a word correctly, they are able to include it in their vocabulary easily. This demonstrates the importance of sounding out words also known as decoding. Since reading is a natural process, when an instructor reads to or with them they are at a position to recognize words easily. With time and practice children then become able to recognize words automatically. The more words they are able to recognize, the easier it becomes for them to read. Generally, recognition instruction paves the way for successful reading in the future among learners in elementary school, especially those who may be experiencing difficulties concerning early reading. For purposes of acquiring the ability to read words, word recognition, children require several skills and elements. In elementary school word recognition instruction therefore involves instructing students in phonological awareness, in decoding and in sight recognition especially of high frequency words (Walpole, McKenna, Philippakos, & Strong, 2019).

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Phonological awareness is one of the critical steps in inculcating the ability to read in elementary learners. It is an essential requirement for decoding and eventually word recognition. The process of reading in children does not begin with learning how to sound out various letters that they come across. Young learners get ready to read even before they realize that the letters which they see stand in for sounds. Reading, for elementary learners begins when they tune in to the sound of the letters which they see, and this is where phonological awareness comes in. Phonological awareness encompasses the ability of learners to recognize effectively and work with the sounds of spoken language. In the case of elementary learners, it is being able to pick out words that rhyme and also to count the number of syllables that are in any given name. Phonological awareness is a skill which is developed gradually; when children notice that certain words rhyme for example, they begin to create their own rhymes. Moreover, after they have learnt the number of syllables which exist in a word, they start to break the words apart by other means other than clapping, say by listening. These are some of the skills which phenomenological awareness is comprised of. The last and seemingly most complex of these skills is usually phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness enables children to tune in to the individual sounds that are in given words. Phonemic awareness is therefore inculcated in elementary leaners by assisting them to separate words in terms of the sounds which they are made up of, rejoining the sounds to recreate the words again as well as substituting sounds to form new words. At the elementary level, neither phonological awareness nor phonemic awareness is taught using print or letters. The activities which are used to teach these skills should be purely auditory (Walpole, McKenna, Philippakos, & Strong, 2019).

The other step that elementary learners need to take when learning how to read is decoding. Once children have learnt the letter-sound relationships, and letter patterns they must proceed to apply their knowledge and pronounce words correctly (Denton & Otaiba, 2011). Since they understand the relationships between various letters and sounds they develop an ability to recognize familiar sounds and also easily figure out which words they have not come across before. In accordance with the alphabetic principle, it is at this decoding stage that learners make the connection that the letters which they have learnt represent sounds which are read out loud. Once a learner realizes this, then it can be said that they understand the importance of the alphabetic code. The role of the instructor at this stage therefore is to teach the learner how to decode by blending various sounds together to form words. Decoding however is a deliberate act in the sense that an elementary learner must proceed to apply the knowledge of sounds that they have acquired to pronounce words which they do not recognize instantly. However, once a learner decodes a word several times, they then become able of recognizing such words without conscious deliberation which then leads to efficient word recognition. Some of the strategies with which instructors can use to teach learners at the elementary level how to decode therefore include having them sort pictures and objects by the sound which is being taught as the children say the letter sounds repeatedly. Manipulatives such as sound boxes, counters and magnetic letters can also be utilized to teach letter-sound relationships.

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Sight word recognition is the final critical component for successful word recognition. Sight word recognition is important because some words cannot be identified by way of sounding them out although they are utilized quite frequently. These words are the exceptions whose letters do not necessarily follow the common letter-sound correspondences. As a result of the irregularities that exist in the letter-sound correspondences, learners can only learn these words by memorizing them. Sounding out these exceptional words usually does not work since their pronunciation is not consistent with the letters (Metsala & Ehri, 2013). The best way to memorize these words is by sight. Sight words therefore are the high frequency words which must be memorized because their spellings are irregular and hence they cannot be decoded effectively. The importance of sight recognition is that it enables students to notice all letters and words, and to anchor them in their memories. This in turn discourages guess reading. Other forms of instructions that would be helpful in terms of assisting elementary learners to develop sight word recognition include reading books, and being exposed to classroom walls with words written on them.

In conclusion, word recognition is about the ability to see a word and recognize its pronunciation without any conscious effort. There are three important elements which assist elementary learners to achieve automatic and effective word recognition. These elements are phonological awareness, decoding letter-sound correspondences and sight recognition of words whose letters and sounds do not correspond. These three elements have been successfully proven to be useful in terms of teaching learners how to recognize words automatically and hence are a prerequisite to reading comprehension. Instructors should utilize all possible strategies to assist students meet all these elements because students who develop effortless word recognition are able to read effectively.


Denton, C. A., & Otaiba, S. A. (2011). Teaching Word Identification to Students with Reading Difficulties and Disabilities. Focus Except Child.

Kilpatrick, D. A. (2015). Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties. Amazon: John Wiley&Sons.

Metsala, J. L., & Ehri, L. C. (2013). Word Recognition in Beginning Literacy. Amazon: Routledge.

Walpole, S., McKenna, M. C., Philippakos, Z. A., & Strong, J. Z. (2019). Differentiated Literacy Instruction in Grades 4 and 5, Second Edition: Strategies and Resources. Amazon: Guilford Publications.

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