Multisyllabic Decoding: What is it & why teach it
Multisyllabic decoding is a term used to describe the ability of students to read and spell multisyllabic words. It is considered an essential skill for students, as it allows them to read more complex texts with greater fluency. In addition, multisyllabic decoding also helps students spell words correctly.
Research has shown that students who lack the ability to decode multisyllabic words will struggle with reading and spelling complex words, regardless of their intelligence level or grade level.
It is therefore important for educators to provide instruction in multisyllabic decoding skills to all students. This can be done through explicit teaching of these skills, as well as providing ample practice opportunities. With proper instruction and practice, all students can become proficient readers and spellers of multisyllabic words.
What is Multisyllabic Decoding?
Multisyllabic decoding is the ability to read words with more than one syllable. This is a vital skill for students to learn because many of the words they will encounter in their reading are multi-syllabic. In fact, according to the National Reading Panel, approximately two-thirds of the words in printed text are made up of multiple syllables.
Decoding multi-syllabic words actually a pretty complex skill. When you break it down, there are a few different elements that students need to be able to do in order to decode multisyllabic words:
– First, they need to be able to identify the individual sounds (or phonemes) in each syllable.
– Next, students need to be able to blend those phonemes together to form the syllable.
– Finally, they need to be able to put all of the syllables together to form the word.
Why Explicitly Teach Students to Decode Multisyllabic Words?
There are several reasons why teaching multisyllabic decoding is so important. For one, as we just mentioned, a large majority of the words students will encounter in their reading are multi-syllabic. Therefore, it’s crucial that students have a strong understanding of how to decode these types of words.
In addition, research has shown that students who can decode multisyllabic words are better able to comprehend what they’re reading. This is because they’re not spending all of their time and energy trying to figure out each word; instead, they can focus on understanding the meaning of the text as a whole.
Finally, being able to decode multisyllabic words can help students become better spellers. This is because they develop an understanding of how different letter patterns work together to form specific sounds. As a result, when they encounter a new word, they’re often able to sound it out and spell it correctly without too much difficulty.
What do students need to know before reading multisyllabic words?
There are a few things that students should know before they start reading multisyllabic words:
Identify Vowels and Consonants
First, students need to be able to identify all of the letters in the alphabet and the corresponding sounds that each letter makes. Not only do students need to know the letters, but they need to know the difference between a vowel and a consonant and be able to identify each one within a word.
Syllabic patterns are built off of vowels and the number of consonants between each vowel. Students need to know how to identify the vowels in a word and how many consonants are between each vowel.
Read Many Phonics Patterns in One-Syllable Words
Next, students need to know how to read many phonics patterns in one-syllable words in order to transfer the skill to reading multi-syllabic words.
There are common vowel patterns that students need to be aware of when reading multisyllabic words. These patterns are found in the majority of words that students will encounter and, fortunately, they are not too difficult to learn. In fact, with a little bit of practice, students can become experts at decoding multisyllabic words using these patterns.
Common phonics patterns include: VCE, Vowel Teams, R Controlled Vowels, Vowels Digraphs (ex. pain, boat), and Diphthongs (ex. pout, coin).
Count Syllables in a Word
Finally, it’s important for students to understand syllables and how to count them in a word. Being able to identify the number of syllables can help students with pronunciation and decoding unknown words. Counting syllables is a great phonemic awareness activity and should be a part of early elementary phonics routines.
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s take a look at how teachers can explicitly teach multisyllabic decoding in their classrooms.
Multisyllabic Decoding Strategies to Use with Students
One effective way to teach multisyllabic decoding is through the use of syllable types and rules. By introducing a few simple rules, students can begin to decode multi-syllabic words on their own without needing to memorize every single word.
What are the Syllable Types for Multi-Syllabic Decoding?
Common Syllable Patterns include:
- Closed Syllables (rab/bit)
- Vowel-Consonant-e (ex. bake, cube)
- Open Syllable (ex. ta ble, ti ny)
- Consonant-le (ex. tab le, bub ble)
- Vowel Team Syllables (thief, boil, boat)
- Vowel-R or R-Controlled Syllables (per/form)
- Consonant + y (ex. baby, try)
One rule that can be introduced is the Closed Syllable Rule, which states that a closed syllable ends with a consonant and has only one vowel that says its short sound (ex. hat, upset). This can be helpful for students in decoding words like “rabbit” or “planet.”
Vowel-Consonant-e or VCE
Another rule to introduce is the Vowel-Consonant-e Syllable Rule, which states that a syllable ending with a silent e has the long vowel sound (ex. bike, hike). This can assist students in decoding words like “bride” or “tribe.”
Another rule that can be introduced when decoding multisyllabic words is the Open Syllable Rule. This rule states that an open syllable has one vowel at the end of a word and the vowel is long (ex. hi, go). This can be helpful for students in decoding words like “pilot” or “peanut.”
Vowel Team Syllables
Another rule to introduce is the Vowel Team Syllable Rule, which states that when two vowels are side by side in a word and they make a new sound, it is called a vowel team (ex. pain, boat). This can assist students in decoding words like “rainbow” or “toast.”
Another rule to introduce is the R-Controlled Syllable Rule, where an r following a vowel changes the sound of the vowel (ex. giraffe, car). This can assist students in decoding words like “farm” or “garden.”
Consonant + y
Lastly, the Consonant + y Syllable Rule can be introduced, which states that a consonant followed by a y often has a long vowel sound (ex. baby, try). This can assist students in decoding words like “party” or “happy.”
Keep a list of irregular syllables
It is important for students to be aware of irregular syllables in words as it can help with pronunciation and decoding unknown words. When students know which syllables are irregular, they can apply that knowledge to other words that may follow the same pattern. This can be helpful when reading multisyllabic words, as it can make the decoding process easier.
Teachers can help students become familiar with irregular syllables by keeping a list of them and providing examples of words that follow each pattern. This can be a part of early elementary phonics routines and will help students become more confident readers.
Common irregular syllables include:
- able / ible
- ance / ence
A simple teaching routine for decoding two-syllable words
A simple routine I use for decoding multisyllabic words is to ask, where the vowels are in a two-syllable word, then point to the vowels. I ask students how many consonants are between the vowels, then ask students where to divide the word.
So it goes something like this:
“Where are the vowels?” students point to them.
“How many consonants?” – Two
“Divide where” – in between
“How many consonants?” – One
“Divide where” – try before
In this case, we divide the word before the consonant and try to pronounce the word with an open syllable. If it doesn’t make sense we “try after.”
Multisyllabic decoding is an important skill for all students to learn. Not only will it help them better understand the vast majority of words they’ll encounter in their reading, but it will also improve their spelling skills and overall comprehension levels.
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate instruction into your classroom, start by teaching your students about syllables and then providing them with ample opportunities to practice decoding multisyllabic words. Finally, give regular feedback so they can monitor their progress along the way!
Resources You can Use for Multisyllabic Decoding
Are you diving into decoding multisyllabic words? Check out these resources to meet the needs of your learners.
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