How to split a multi-syllable word

There are a number of ways to split a multi-syllabic word. It really depends on your approach. There are no hard and fast rules. Here are a number of ways to go about it:

The way we say it – approach
One approach is splitting a word according to how we say it.
Take the word ‘wagon’. When we say the word, we say ‘wa- gon’. When readers split it this way they are likely to recognise it as it is similar to the way they say it. This is a linguistic approach to splitting syllables.

Open/closed syllable approach
Some teachers teach pupils ‘closed syllables’ that have a short vowel in them and ‘open syllables’ that have a long vowel in them. They would split the word ‘wagon’: ‘wag – on’.

Root word and morphemes approach
It is quite useful to teach children about root words and the grammatical function of morphemes like ‘ing’, ‘ed’, prefixes and suffixes as this helps children with comprehension and spelling. So the word ‘running’ would be split ‘runn – ing’. This is more of a spelling and word meaning route to splitting syllables.

The spelling rules approach
Another route that some teachers would take is to split ‘running’ like this: ‘run-ning’. This is a rules based approach as the pupil will also learn the ‘doubling’ rule (double the ‘n’ when you add -ing) at the same time.

The mixed bag approach
We feel that is does not really matter how a reader splits a word up as long as he/she can decode it and derive meaning from it. The only conflict between the different approaches is when there are double consonants in a word.
The ‘Spelling Rules’ approach is not compatible with a Synthetic Phonics approach. In the word ‘running’ the ‘nn’ is seen as a consonant digraph for the phoneme ‘n’ and spells just one sound. As we do not split other consonant digraphs like ‘ck or ‘ch’ we should not split the ‘nn’ into ‘run – ning’. As one of the basic principles in Synthetic Phonics is that 2 letters can represent one sound, we feel one should be consistent and stick to that principle.

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