Questions on decodable text and phonologic processing of print

Q: I was told I need to have my child read decodable text. What is decodable text? Why should beginning readers read decodable text? Why is decodable text recommended for students? How does decodable text help students establish necessary phonologic reading skills? How do I find decodable text for by beginning reader?

A: In reading instruction, the term ‘decodable’ refers to words containing only the phonetic code the child or student has already learned.  We often think of ‘decodable’ text as phonetically simple words and text. Although decodable text is simple in the beginning when the child has limited knowledge of the phonemic code, decodable text expands as the child learns more of the phonemic code.  

In beginning reading, it is important for the child to read phonetically decodable text because it allows the child to apply correct phonologic processing skills. If you have the child read text that is NOT decodable (contains sounds they have not yet learned) the child is unable to use correct phonologic processing and often resorts to incorrect strategies that lead to reading difficulties.  To become a proficient reader, the child MUST develop and practice correct phonologic processing. Decodable text provides the child material he has the skills to decode correctly.  Decodable text allows the child to use and develop correct print to sound phonologic processing pathways and avoid the potential of developing incorrect reading strategies.  Decodable text helps children build necessary skills!

For additional information about decodable text, why decodable text is important, how to determine if text is decodable, how to find decodable text for your student to practice, and instructions for making your own inexpensive decodable books, see the articles:

Q: The lessons in Right Track Reading Lessons and Back on the Right Track Reading Lessons include lots of lists of words for reading. Isn’t it better to have students read real stories than to just read words? Why do the programs use word lists?

A: The Right Track Reading programs are designed to develop the necessary skills to read proficiently.  The word lists are used extensively in all the lessons to help the student learn ‘how to read’ and practice correct reading skills. These decodable word lists are an excellent tool to develop proper reading skills. See the answer to the previous question on why you use decodable text.  To accurately ‘read’ words in a list, the student must phonetically decode the words correctly. Word guessing, context clues, pictures and chanting repetitive text can not be used with word lists. Therefore, these word lists force the student to phonetically decode the word, a critical step to proficient reading! Word list are an excellent tool to teach necessary reading skills not an end objective. These word lists are particularly useful in remedial reading situations.  To read proficiently the student MUST learn to decode the print phonetically.

Of course as the student’s skills develop you absolutely want to have your child read actual books. Start with simple decodable text and then move to more advanced books as the child’s skills improve. With remediation, the student moves into a program of daily guided reading as soon as the core phonologic processing skills are established. To better understand the importance of phonologic processing see the article How Reading Works: The Biologic Process of Proficient Reading and Exciting Scientific Proof - We Can Help Students Learn to Read Proficiently!

Reading is the key that unlocks the door to the vast wealth of information and stories. The purpose of Right Track Reading Lessons and Back on the Right Track Reading Lessons is to help you teach your child or student HOW to read so they become a proficient reader and are able to access the vast knowledge, limitless adventure and wonder of contained in our written language. Continue to share the joy of reading. Keep taking your child to the library.  Read those ‘real books’. Expose your child to true literature. But make sure you also teach your child to read proficiently.

In summary, practice reading decodable text is essential for the student to build proficient phonologic processing! Word lists are a wonderfully effective tool for the student to practice correct decoding skills. The article Activities for Establishing Phonologic Processing of Print contains additional information.

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These questions were answered by Miscese Gagen a mother with a passion for teaching children to read proficiently by using effective methods. She is also a successful reading tutor and author of the reading instructional programs Right Track Reading Lessons and Back on the Right Track Reading Lessons. The purpose of this article is to empower parents and teachers with information on teaching children how to read. We CAN improve reading proficiency, one student at a time!  More information is located at ~  Copyright 2004-2013 Miscese R. Gagen