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The 10 Steps to Teach Reading from Phonemic Awareness to Fluency in Reading

This guide shows you how to teach reading in a logical order from developing your students’ phonemic awareness to teaching them reading comprehension and reaching the ultimate fluency in reading.

Reading is described in many ways by different people. Here are some descriptions of reading:

  • A thinking (cognitive) process.
  • Reconstruction and interpretation of meanings behind printed symbols.
  • The process of understanding written language.

In fact, we usually consider reading comprehension and reading to be synonymous because when understanding breaks down, reading actually has not occurred and comprehension of the written material is the primary purpose of reading.

Also, the word “meaning” appears in most definitions of reading because readers are always involved in constructing meaning from the reading text. 

The Three Main Keys to Reading

1. Phonemic Awareness

It is the ability of children to: 

  • Recognize rhymes easily when they hear them (Rhyming).
  • Break up words into syllables (Syllable Breakdown).
  • Blend phonemes to make words (Blending).
  • Say the word; sound by sound (Segmentation).

Phonemic awareness is essential for learning to read because it is the understanding that spoken words and syllables are made up of sequences of speech sounds.

This understanding is essential because, without it, phonics can make no sense, and the spelling of words can’t be learned easily.

In the early stages of its development, phonemic awareness does not involve written letters or words and is, therefore, not synonymous with phonics. In later stages, however, work on phonemic awareness and phonics appears to be mutually reinforcing.

Phonemic awareness is a powerful predictor of success in learning to read because:

  • It is important in learning the English alphabetic system or in learning how print represents spoken words.
  • If children cannot hear and manipulate the sounds in spoken words, they will have a tough time learning to read them in print.
  • Phonemic awareness is important in learning the spelling of words.

2. Phonics

Phonics is an important method of teaching children how to read. It is a series of rules that children have to memorize and apply when they are sounding out new words.

Children are taught a rule, i.e. Silent e, and then they practice reading words with Silent e.

Then children do skill sheets at their desks highlighting the Silent e rule.

Children must learn letter sounds to an automatic level – they must be able to see the letter(s) and say the sound immediately.

Children are taught how to “sound out” new words by learning the following items:

  • Consonant letters sounds: b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z.
  • Blend sounds: br, cr, dr, fr, gr, pr, tr, wr, bl, cl, fl, gl, pl, sl, scr, str, sm, sn, sp, sc, sk.
  • Short vowel sounds: a, e, i, o, u. Always teach short vowel sounds first: a – apple, e – elephant, i- igloo, o – octopus, u – umbrella)
  • Digraph sounds: sh, ch, th, wh are two letters combined to make a totally different sound.
  • Double vowel sounds ai, ea, ee, oa. These pairs say the name of the first vowel.
  • Other double vowel sounds: oi, oo, ou, ow.
  • Silent e: Silent e is bossy, it doesn’t say anything but makes the vowel before it says its own name.
  • R controlled vowel sounds: ar, er, ir, or, ur Notice that er,ir and ur make the same sound.

3. Fluency in Reading

It means identifying words accurately and fluently and constructing meaning once words are identified.

Fluency in reading involves the ability of children to:

  • Read a text accurately and quickly.
  • Recognize words automatically.
  • Group words quickly to gain meaning from reading.
  • Focus attention on what the text means.

The 10 Steps to Teach Reading from Phonemic Awareness to Fluency in Reading

This guide includes:

  • 10 consecutive practical steps to teach reading from phonemic awareness to fluency in reading.
  • Criteria for selecting reading texts.
  • Reading techniques.
  • Steps to teach reading comprehension.

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