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Conventional Reading Strategies

Conventional reading strategies  

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 Teaching Sight Words

Conventional methods have children memorize sight words.  That’s because conventional thinking believes, like Dolchsightwords.org, “Many of the 220 words in the Dolch list, can not be “sounded out”, and hence must be learned by sight”.

 Teaching Word Families

Conventional methods may teach up to 60 word families. For example: use the at family to learn words like  cat, mat or sat. This word family trains children to see a-t in words and blend them together to automatically say /at/.  

 Tried & True Rules

Conventional methods use age old rules to help children:

“i before e, except after c.”

“When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.” 


Wordy’s Perspective on Conventional Strategies

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 Sight Words

The Dolch Sight Words, commonly used by parents and teachers, lists 220 words.

When using conventional letter-sound phonics, these words, like most of the Dolch words, cannot be sounded out.  Try it.

t-h-e-y             d-o-w-n

So the conventional solution has been to require children to memorize a list of (often abstract) words that can lead to confusion and frustration.

If you were required to learn these sight words, could you easily “see” the difference?

                      then     them     they     their

All too often, and for too many children, this results in what Wordy calls the

Drill and Dry Method: drill the words and dry the tears.


Neither way is Wordy’s Way

Only a few sight words are truly irregular.  The rest of the sight words can be sounded out using the phonograms.  So,

You Do the Math  

  1. 72 sight words = 72 sight words words
  2. 72 phonograms = the code in 98% of all English Words.
English is logical, sensible, predictable, and easy to decode. Why teach children otherwise?

 Word Families

What happens when you pronounce  /at/ in words like:

later      bath      father    eat     boat

of 50 plus common word families, only four are true phonograms that will not confuse children later on and require parents/teachers to explain the difference.

English is logical, sensible, predictable, and easy to decode. Why teach children otherwise?


“i before e except after c…”

That’s  weird!

Herein you will see sufficient exceptions:

heir, their, seize, weird, codeine, either, feisty, foreign, forfeit, height, heinous, heist, neither, sheik, leisure, stein, kaleidoscope, sleight, neighbor, weigh, weight, deity, deign, beige, eight, eighty, eighteen, feign, feint, freight, heir, rein, reign, sovereign, veil, vein,  protein, sovereign caffein,  codeine, Keith, Sheila, Neil… and more.

Then three are those that have “ie” right after a “c”: science, conscience, prescience, society.

“When 2 vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.”

Try sounding out these words using the “first vowel does the talking” rule:

eight       biscuit      steak     boil

bread     reindeer     build       cookie

Don’t feel bad if you use this rule. Even PBS made up a cute song with adorable animations to teach this rule. The problem is it’s true in less than 1/3 of the cases. That means 2/3 of words are “exceptions!”


English is logical, sensible, predictable, and easy to decode.

Children will read with proficiency when they are taught with proficiency.



  • Calendar icon June 16, 2012
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