Research suggests that the initial texts used by early readers have a strong influence on how they ‘decode’ text.

It is my experience that if young readers are given texts to read that are decodable – they will develop decoding skills. They develop a habit of sounding out and blending graphemes to read and gain meaning. But if they are offered texts they cannot decode (and must resort to guessing in order to read) – guessing will become their primary strategy for reading.

Often, pupils who come to the centre where I work have guessing habits. It is very difficult to change guessing habits. Often it is children with poor visual memory who need to be able to decode by sounding out and blending graphemes, as they cannot remember the shape of words. ‘Look and Say’ just doesn’t work for them.

Here is some research which supports this observation that initial texts used by early readers have a strong influence on how they decode text:

“The selection of text used very early in first grade may, at least in part, determine the strategies and cues children learn to use, and persist in using, in subsequent word identification…. In particular, emphasis on a phonics method seems to make little sense if children are given initial texts to read where the words do not follow regular letter-sound correspondence generalizations. Results of the current study suggest that the types of words which appear in beginning reading texts may well exert a more powerful influence in shaping children’s word identification strategies than the method of reading instruction’(Juel and Roper/Schneider. Reading Research Quarterly 18)”

To read the complete article click here:

Thanks to Susan Godsland from for flagging this article up.

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