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Reading Multisyllable Words with Xavier, Third Grader

Reading Multisyllable Words with Xavier, Third Grader

Reading expert Linda Farrell shows Xavier how to read and spell unfamiliar multisyllable words with one vowel letter in each syllable. First she makes sure that Xavier has three prerequisite skills: being able to read one-syllable nonsense words, knowing how to count syllables in spoken words, and naming the vowel letters. Xavier learns that every syllable has a vowel, and that he can count the vowel letters to break a long word into syllables to make it easy to read. To figure out how many syllables are in a word, Ms. Farrell teaches Xavier to ask two questions: How many vowels are in the word? Are the vowels together or apart? In a separate video below, Ms. Farrell listens to Xavier read aloud to help him read with accuracy.

Learning multisyllabic words with ‘silent e’ and vowel teams

After a student has mastered the basics of breaking a word with short vowels into syllables to read them, Ms. Farrell recommends these next steps:

  • Introduce schwa after students have learned to read multisyllable words with short vowels.
  • For multisyllable words with ‘silent e’, add a third question: Do you see a ‘silent e’ at the end? The ‘silent e’ and the vowel preceding it stay in the syllable together.
  • For multisyllable words with vowel teams, teach students that two vowels together stay together in the syllable.

Sounding out new multisyllabic words

Mastering reading accuracy

Ms. Farrell listens closely as Xavier reads aloud from one of his favorite books (Dog Man) to help him focus on reading every word accurately. Strong readers have the habit of reading virtually every word accurately.

Literacy terms

Multisensory instruction: Instruction that engages more than one sense at a time to help students learn. A multisensory activity can include seeing, talking, hearing, moving, and touching.

Schwa: Schwa is a vowel sound in an unstressed syllable. The most common sound for schwa is /uh/. For example, ‘a’ in around, ‘e’ in open, ‘i’ in robin, ‘o’ in wagon.

Vowel teams: Some vowel sounds are spelled with two or more letters — these letters are called a ‘vowel team’. Examples: ‘ai’ in paid, ‘ee’ in feet, ‘ey’ in key, ‘oa’ in boat, ‘ow’ in grow, ‘ou’ in cloud, ‘ie’ in pie, ‘ew’ in new, and ‘ough’ in though.

About Linda Farrell

Linda Farrell is a founding partner at Readsters (opens in a new window), an Alexandria, VA-based firm that helps schools implement research-based reading instruction. She is committed to effective early reading instruction to help struggling readers become strong readers, and to ensure that strong readers achieve their full potential.

Linda works in schools throughout the U.S. training and coaching teachers and modeling effective reading instruction. She also has designed curricula in Niger and Senegal for children to learn to read in their local languages.

Linda is a former English teacher and she was a National LETRS trainer for seven years. She has co-authored assessments and curricula for teaching reading, as well as several other published works. Linda can be reached at: [email protected]