What is a syllable approach to reading?

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A syllable approach is a synthetic approach to reading. It is characterized by use of the syllable as the basic building block or unit for decoding words. Students learn syllables before reading words and text.


A syllable approach to teaching reading is an approach which uses syllable recognition as the primary word attack skill.


A syllable approach lesson will normally present the following:

  • A picture word which is a memory device for a new syllable, and
  • A new syllable together with all the syllables which make up the syllable family.

  • The new syllable in a larger matrix with most or all other known syllables.

    The syllable matrix is practiced at length as preparation for reading words and text which use known syllables.


Syllable approaches vary:

  • Some call for memorization of CV's first, then all CVC's, then all CCV's, and so on until all syllable types are learned.


    What is a syllable shape?

  • Some intersperse the syllable types in order to make more natural reading materials early in the series.
  • Others introduce a small set of syllables in each section followed by reading words and text.

Here is an example of a instructional program that uses a syllable approach:

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Page content last modified: 16 September 1999

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