As we’ve seen in the last two units, there are two main strategies for decoding: phonetic decoding and structural analysis. Both strategies operate together to make decoding easier. These skills enable readers to figure out words they don’t recognize in print. And the goal is to build the total number of words that students recognize automatically so they won’t need to decode them.
Decoding takes a long time and reading would be frustrating if we had to decode every single word. Fortunately, decoding in our early years as readers helps us increase the number of sight words in our vocabulary later on. Sight words are words we don’t have to decode; we just know them. Sight words help build reading fluency. The more sight words a reader knows, the easier reading becomes. Sometimes it is useful to intentionally teach heart words that occur frequently and that may have irregular spellings.