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Decoding

Decoding

Decoding is the ability to apply knowledge of letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns, to correctly pronounce written words. Understanding these relationships gives children the ability to recognize familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven't seen before.

Guidelines for decoding instruction

An effective program does the following:

  1. Provides children with opportunities to use their knowledge of sound-letter relationships to practice decoding.
  2. Helps children use context to confirm the meanings of words they have identified by applying their knowledge of sound-letter relationships.
  3. Provides children with structural analysis practice as a way to identify word parts and multisyllabic words.

Why do children confuse certain sounds?

Phoneme Pairs
These eight pairs of consonants differ only in voicing. Everything else is the same. The top sound in each pair is the voiced phoneme (the phoneme that makes the vocal cords vibrate). The bottom sound is unvoiced. Children often confuse sounds in the same pair.

Phoneme Pairs

/b/
/p/

/d/
/t/

/g/
/k/

/v/
/f/

 

/TH/
/th/

/z/
/s/

/zh/
/sh/

/j/
/ch/

The sounds of speech

These charts can help you learn the correct sounds of letters. Listen to the pronunciation of each letter sound.

Phoneme

Spelling
(Initial Position)

Spelling
(Final Position)

Examples

/p/

p

p

pick, hop

/b/

b

b

bid, knob

/t/

t

t, bt, ed

tap, doubt, flipped

/d/

d

d

deck, bad

/k/

c, k, ch

k, ck

can't, kick, crook, lock

/g/

g, gu, gh

gue, gg

give, bag, guitar, plague, ghost, egg

/m/

m

m, mb, mn

map, jam, limb, hymn

/n/

n, kn, gn

n, gn

neck, pen, knick, sign, gnat

/ng/

--

ng

sing

/f/

f, ph

f, ff, ph, gh

fate, leaf, photo, off, graph, enough

/v/

v

ve

vote, give

/th/

th

the

thank, math

/TH/

th

the

this, bathe

/s/

s, c, ps

ce, se, ss, s

sick, mice, center, base, psychology, bliss, bus

/z/

z

se, ze, zz, s, z

zap, please, sneeze, buzz, has, whiz

/sh/

sh, s

sh

shoe, rash, sure

/zh/

si (medial position)
s (medial position)
z (medial position)

--

vision, treasure, azure

/ch/

ch

ch

chick, batch

/j/

j, g

ge, dge

juice, gauge, giant, dodge

/y/

y

--

yell

/hw/

wh

--

what

/w/

w

--

warm

/h/

h, wh

--

house, who

/l/

l

ll

look, fell

/r/

r, wr

r

rake, far, wrong

 

Phoneme

Spelling

Examples

/a-/

a_e, ai, ay, ea, ei, ey, eigh

late, bait, say, steak, veil, they, sleigh

/e-/

e, ee, ea, y, ie, e_e, ey, i_e, ei

me, feet, bead, many, field, these, key, machine, receive

/i-/

i_e, y, i, ie, igh, ye

time, try, mild, pie, high, lye

/o-/

o, o_e, oa, ow, oe, ou, ew

so, hope, coat, low, toe, soul, sew

/a/

a, a_e

sat, have

/e/

e, ea, ai, a

pet, head, said, many

/i/

i, y, e, i_e, ee, ui

six, gym, pretty, give, been, build

/o/

o, a

log, watch

/u/

u, o, o_e, ou

but, ton, love, young

/?/

a, e, i, o, u

alone, system, easily, gallop, circus

/ûr/

ur, ir, er, or

turn, girl, her, work

/är/

ar

car

/ôr/

or, our, ar

or, four, war

/aw/

aw, au, a[l], a[ll], ou

saw, cause, walk, ball, cough

/oi/, /oy/

oi, oy

boil, toy

/ou/, /ow/

ou, ow

cloud, now

/o-o-/, (yo-o-)

oo, u, ue, ew, u_e, o, ou

hoot, ruby (cute), blue (fuel), new, tube, do, soup

/o(o(/

oo, u, o, ou

book, put, wolf, would

 


Adapted from: Moats, L., CORE Sourcebook.

Reading 101 is a collaboration with the Center for Effective Reading Instruction and The International Dyslexia Association.

"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase