How did we learn most of the sight words we now know? We first learned them by decoding them. We’ve all seen words like sale, president, phone, exit, and doctor on signs, on TV, in books, and in newspapers. We’ve seen these words in print so many times that we’ve memorized them.

While we may have learned these sight words outside of the classroom, without direct instruction, we still decoded them. Our knowledge of decoding means that many sight words can be self-taught, which means that each of us has our own personal collection of sight words. We’ve learned certain sight words through our jobs, hobbies, and everyday lives. A farmer’s sight-word vocabulary might include irrigation, tractor, fertilize, and silage. A soccer player’s sight words might include goaltender, bye, offside, and penalty. A person caring for elderly relatives might know the sight words respiratory, rehabilitation, ambulatory, and hospice. Our life experiences provide us with our own personal sets of sight words.