Sight Word Recognition


What is sight word recognition?

Not all written words are regular ones that can be decoded easily.

  • Some words are irregular or difficult to decode.
  • They must be memorized and recognized by sight. 

Top

Why is sight word recognition important?

Learning sight word recognition skills will help learners read:

  • Irregular words that can not be sounded out
    • For example, words such as:  there, was, said, come
  • Words that are governed by more complex spelling rules that have not yet been taught
    • For example, words such as:  boy, eat
  • Longer, more complex words that are of high interest to the learner
    • For example, words such as:  Spiderman, Darth Vader, Hannah Montana, horse

Remember that learners should not only receive instruction in sight word recognition.

They also need instruction in decoding skills.

Instruction in sight word recognition supplements, but does not replace, instruction in decoding.

Top

Sample goal for instruction in sight word recognition

When a target word is presented orally (said out loud), the learner will

  • select the appropriate written word from a group of written words with at least 80% accuracy.

Top

Instructional Task

Here are the steps to teach sight word recognition:

  • The instructor
    • introduces the new sight word
    • shows a card with the word and says the word out loud
    • uses the word in a sentence

After practice with this sight word, the instructor provides review.

  • The instructor
    • puts out a group of written words as response options
    • says the target sight word out loud
  • The learner
    • listens to the spoken word
    • looks at each of the written words provided as response options
    • selects the target word

Or, here is another way to teach sight word recognition if the words are easily represented in images:

  • The instructor
    • introduces the new sight word
    • shows a card with the word and says the word out loud
    • shows a picture or symbol of the word
    • uses the word in a sentence
  • The instructor
    • puts out a group of pictures or symbols as response options as appropriate
    • shows the written sight word to the learner
  • The learner
    • looks at the target written sight word
    • determines the word
    • says the word, signs it, or matches it to the appropriate picture or symbol from a group provided or from a speech generating device (computer)

Top

Instructional Materials

Here is an example of a group of sight words that might be provided as response options.

  • The target word is “the”
  • Response options are she, then, this, the

The learner must

  • listen to the target sight word spoken out loud -- “the”
  • select the correct written word – the – from the group of written words provided

Top

Instructional Procedure

The instructor teaches sight word recognition using these procedures.

  • Model
    • The instructor demonstrates sight word recognition for the learner.
  • Guided practice
    • The instructor provides scaffolding support or prompting to help the learner
      • match the sight word to the spoken word, or
      • match the sight word to a picture or symbol of the word
    • The instructor gradually fades this support as the learner develops competence.
  • Independent practice
    • The learner listens to the target word and selects the written word independently.
    • The instructor monitors the learner’s responses and provides appropriate feedback.

Top

Student Example

Jackson is 5 years old in this video.

  • Jackson has Down syndrome.
  • He attends a regular preschool program; he has not yet started Kindergarten.
  • He uses speech and signs to communicate with others.
  • We started to work with Jackson and his parents to teach him literacy skills when he was 4 years old.
  • This video was taken after approximately 13 months (approximately 45 minutes a week) of instruction.
  • At this point, Jackson knows all of the letter-sound correspondences. He decodes regular words in books and he also recognizes many high interest sight words (for example, Nemo, Lightning McQueen).
  • Jackson is learning to recognize frequently occurring irregular words. In this video, a new sight word is introduced, the word, "the".
    • Janice
      • provides an array of sight words as response options
      • says one of the words (the)
    • Jackson
      • listens to the spoken word
      • points to the target written word from the choices provided
      • Jackson rapidly learns this new sight word
  • Over the next weeks, we introduced more sight words and continued to practice decoding skills.
  • After 15 months of instruction (approximately 45 minutes a week), Jackson was reading simple stories independently. His skills surpassed those of his typical peers. Click to learn more about Jackson’s success learning literacy skills.

Unauthorized copying, transmittal, or exhibition of this video outside of this website is prohibited.

 

Top

Pointers

Provide instruction in sight word recognition of a few high-interest words that are too difficult to decode early in the instructional process.

  • This will increase the learner’s motivation.

Wait to teach sight word recognition of frequently occurring irregular words once the learner has learned to decode simple regular words.

As soon as the learner is able to recognize some sight words, target these words in shared reading activities along with decoding words. Doing so will:

  • Increase motivation to learn to read
  • Provide additional practice recognizing sight words
  • Enhance generalization of sight word recognition

Top


Last Updated: August 31, 2012