Sight words are words which are recognized on sight and do not require any analysis. Sight word knowledge refers to the ability to recognize the pronunciation of words automatically without conscious application of other decoding strategies (Leu and Kinzer, 1999).
One of the benchmarks of a good reader is fluency. LaBerg and Samuels, 1976 define fluency as the process of automatically, accurately and rapidly recognizing words. It is my desire as a teacher to produce excellent readers. The sad reality for me is that, not all students can achieve this. As a teacher I see my task as one in which I must equip my pupils with the skills needed to decode words as they strive to become fluent independent readers.
One way this can be achieved is through the teaching of sight words. As children read, they encounter new words along with familiar words. They utilize the skills they were taught to decode new words for example phonics, syllabication, onset – rime, to name a few. Therefore the greater their sight word knowledge the easier their reading.
It is important to note that sight word recognition is not automatic; the words must be previously taught and practiced by children. This paper would focus on methods I would use in to develop sight word knowledge into my instructional programme.
I would like to highlight however, the reasons I believe why sight words should be taught. •Firstly, our children would build fluency in their reading and writing. Students are greatly able to increase their reading efficiency when we teach them to read most words they encounter. •Secondly, I believe their vocabulary would increase, where for example in their speaking and writing, they can draw from a large storehouse of words. • Not all words can be ‘sounded out’ or are spelt phonetically for example ‘said, who’. These words must be taught as a whole, as sight words. •As teachers, we must be ever mindful that the end result of reading is comprehension. Adams, 1990, states that if a reader must focus his/her attention on identifying (recognizing, decoding) the individual words in a text, then there will be less attention available for comprehending the text. If our pupils spend too much time dwelling on too many words, fluency is lost and comprehension is affected. •Finally, teaching of sight words also allows for the use of phonics. As I stated earlier, not all words are spelt phonetically, however, for those that require the use of phonics, the teacher can use the opportunity to incorporate these phonics skills while teaching sight words. Integration can also occur in the areas pf spelling and vocabulary, where pupils will not only recognize the word on sight but can also spell and define it as well.
Methods and Activities I will use to develop sight word knowledge in my Instructional Programme.
1) An important decision a teacher must make in teaching sight words is to determine which words are to be taught as sight words. Studies suggest that the most common words in our language, called ‘high frequency words’, would be the best place to start. High frequency words are words repeated frequently in early reading texts. Therefore one method I would use is a word list. Mangieri and Khan, 1977, state that lists of basic sight words may give teachers an indication of the words that are most frequently used in reading materials and therefore are needed most frequently by students. The Dolch list of the two hundred and twenty(220) most common words in reading materials(excluding nouns), though first published in the 1930’s, has repeatedly been found to be relevant and useful in more recent materials. Please permit me to share my first experience with the Dolch Sight Word list, which occurred in my first term as a teacher, when I began teaching at the Standard One level. I liked how the list not only contained...