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Activities for teaching students to read words of more than 1-syllable

Difficulties reading multi-syllabic words. Some readers:

  • use distinctive visual features; select some letters and made a rapid guess
  • select the first few letters after which they 'bog down'.
  • have difficulty handling the unstressed vowels that are softened and blurred; these vowels are linked with the 'schwa' sound. Students need to develop an awareness of it as a vowel orally.

Teaching each type of multi syllabic word Multi syllabic words vary on several dimensions

  • whether the word consists of a stem or root word + prefix and /or suffix, two smaller words or less common segments (for example, 'chaos').
  • whether the stem is an identifiable, familiar root word (such as 'jumping', dived', 'unfit') or is not an identifiable, familiar root word (such as 'happy', 'receive')
  • the syllable/s that are and are not stressed.

Activities for teaching students to read multi-syllabic words

  Teaching activities : students learn to
Teach students to recognise syllabic units through word building activities
  • combine syllables, note how they join, how words are built.
  • use this to read syllables in words, to compare segmenting words in different ways.
  • look at how syllables are linked in 2-syllable words. Types:
    • those with an identifiable stem word and prefix / suffix ('jumping', 'beside')
    • those in which stem is not a familiar word ('insect', 'predict', 'begin'.
  • generate 2-syllable words from 1-syllable words, eg., make hopping and hopped from hop, have students discuss how
    • the 2-syllable word differs from the 1-syllable word
    • the letter cluster that is shared by all of them
    • the 'stem' telling you what the words mean and the 'added part'
    • in some of the stem words the last letter is doubled.
  • identify the prefix/ suffix in words and explore what they mean, for example What people can do and the person who does it as in law and lawyer, drive and driver, tour and tourist.
Teach the syllabic
structure of words
unstress a syllable; they learn how to use different stress patterns and to handle unstressed or silent sounds.
Become aware of the syllable structure of words
  • recognise each syllable. Students segment 2-syllables word in 2 ways, Pre-tend and Pr-etend. Which one sounds better? Why? Students suggest their definition of 'syllable'.
  • say either part or syllable in words, They can
    • break words into syllables. Listen to how I say wander. wan-der.
    • hear 2 or 3 separate syllables said with equal stress and blend them into a word.
    • hear 2- and 3- syllable words and say the unstressed syllable, for example, attract, flannel, happen, customer, permanent. Was the unstressed syllable/ first, second or third?
  • gesture for each syllable they hear in a word, for example, they can clap, tap the table, stamp, click fingers, or shake a musical instrument such as a tambourine.
Combining two or more syllables to make a word. hold the first part of a word they read in short term memory, say the second part, blend them into a word and then alter the stress pattern to match what they say with a word they know. Examples are cap ture mix ture man age gar age. Many reading underachievers can't move from 1 to multiple syllabic units. They say the first part of a word and then can't progress.
Experience the use of having words syllabified See the value of syllabifying; a word may be easier to read when it is syllabified.
How to segment different types of 2-syllable words by noting where the two separate vowels are. Four patterns that affect how easily a word can be segmented:
  • words with 2 or more separate consonants (not part of a digraph) between the two vowels; in confuse, consent or lantern. Split between the two consonants.
  • Words with 1 separate consonant between the two vowels; decide, protect, eject, tropic, serious, payment, label and total . These have-vcv- structure and are called 'open syllables'
  • Words in which the two vowels, though separate, are adjacent as in 'create', 'chaos'.
  • Words with a repeated consonant, for example, traffic, summer, accept, cabbage, pretty, gallop, tennis and collect.
Develop word reading procedures for 2-syllable words read sets of 2-syllable words by
  • segmenting them into syllables as they go, say each syllable aloud and blend and if necessary modify the stress pattern.
  • using analogy strategies
  • learning instances of a prefix or suffix family, eg., for the re- word family, for example: repeat, remark, refuse, receipt, receive, recur, refine. They
    • link each word both with what they know about similar words and how it is said
    • segment each written word into two letter clusters that match how they segmented the spoken word into syllables.
    • visualise writing each word, predict how to spell and read similar words and gradually automatise this knowledge

A developmental letter cluster program needs to include

  • teaching functional letter clusters directly.
  • an integrated approach across the year levels .
  • an assessment device to test orthographic knowledge on program entry and at various stages.
  • that students be familiar with the notion of orthographic knowledge, what it means and the journey that they are taking through learning it.

The focus is on students' ability to process each orthographic pattern relatively automatically in prose. Students will read clusters in individual words before they develop the general pattern.