FCRR Home  

home | fsu home | FCRR home

Empowering Teachers
 home >> Essentials for Reading Success: Components of Reading: Phonics: Word Analysis

A Florida State University Center

Word Analysis

Phonemic decoding skills are established early through extensive practice and instruction that involves relatively simple relationships in simple words. As students become more skilled, they progress to increasingly complex patterns of letter sounds and words. Initial instruction typically involves attention to:
  • Most common consonant sounds: Initially those from which a large number of words can be made (e.g., b, c, d, f, h, k, t, s)
  • Short vowels: The sound qualities of /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, and /u/ (e.g., bat, bet, bit, bob, bun)
  • Long vowels: a sound which is the same as, or very similar to, the letter name of one of the vowels (e.g., hi, me, go, tube, cake)
  • Consonant blends and clusters: two or three consonants grouped together with each letter maintaining its distinct sound (e.g., brick, street)
  • Schwa: the vowel sound in an unaccented syllable in multisyllabic words (e.g., umbrella, about, recommend)
  • Consonant digraphs: a combination of consonants representing a single speech sound (e.g., th in that, ch in chin)
  • Vowel digraphs (also known as vowel teams or vowel pairs): two or more adjoining letters represent a single vowel sound; these can be long (e.g., maid, load, bead) or short (e.g., book, saw, friend)
  • Silent e rule: when e occurs at the end of a short word, it typically means the long pronunciation of the vowel is used (e.g., bike, same, cute)
  • Diphthongs: two letters blended together that stand for one vowel sound (e.g., boy, bow, soil, about)
  • R-controlled vowel: the modified sound of a vowel that immediately precedes /r/ in the same syllable (e.g., cart, for, better, fur, bird)
  • Homonyms/Homophones: two words that sound alike, but are spelled differently and have different meanings (e.g., board/bored, flour/flower, ate/eight)
Students should be carefully instructed in how to apply phonemic decoding strategies when reading text. The general rule is that, when they come to a word they cannot immediately recognize, they should first try to “sound it out.” Once they have “sounded out” as much as they can, they should try to think of a word that has those sounds in it, and that also makes sense in the sentence they are reading.