Revisiting the Introductory Challenge


In the introductory challenge, you were asked to think about how you use decoding strategies in your own reading for pleasure or information. We mentioned three kinds of decoding strategies for you to focus on, and the three are listed below for your review.


Step 1Step 2Step 3Step 4

Step 1:

Read these brief descriptions of three kinds of decoding strategies discussed in this unit. Phonemic awareness and phonics – strategies using knowledge about the sounds that make up spoken words, about the sounds different letters represent in written words, and about how vowels and consonants combine to form the syllables in words. Structural analysis – strategies using knowledge of phonics and of prefixes, suffixes, and root words to figure out the pronunciation and meaning of new words. Context clues –strategies using knowledge of the meaning of the words surrounding an unfamiliar word to discover the meaning and pronunciation of the new word in a sentence or phrase.

Step 2:

Read the words in the list below out loud. Try to pronounce all of them correctly, whether you’re familiar with the words or not. forestall torrential immaculate malevolent prestidigitation remonstrate Beside each word, write down what you relied on for pronunciation. Choose one of the three phrases in bold type below to write beside each of the words you read out loud: No decoding necessary – you already knew how to pronounce it. Phonemic awareness – You looked at parts of the word and guessed the pronunciation based on the sounds of different syllables. Structural analysis – You looked at the meanings of parts of the word and based your pronunciation on words or parts of words you found inside the word.

Step 3:

In the following sentences, guess the meaning of the bold-letter word based on context clues provided by other words in the sentence.

  • She tried to forestall engine trouble by getting an oil change every 3,000 miles.
  • Her clothes got completely soaked in the torrential downpour.
  • The kitchen was immaculate; you couldn’t have found a speck of dirt anywhere.
  • She glared at the boy with a look so malevolent it’s a wonder he didn’t run away.
  • The freshly baked cookies disappeared so quickly that he almost thought they disappeared through prestidigitation.
  • The town residents were so angry about the new parking meters they felt the need to remonstrate.

Step 4:

Look up forestall, torrential, immaculate, malevolent, prestidigitation, and remonstrate on-line or in a dictionary and see whether your decoding skills helped you pronounce and understand the meaning of any of the words you didn’t already know. Reflect on which decoding strategy was most helpful to you in pronouncing the words and which in guessing the meaning. If you are working through this unit in a workshop or class, your facilitator or instructor may ask you to discuss your reflections with others in the group.