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MULTISYLLABIC WORD READING: Chapter 8. Kathleen Sylva May 5, 2011. WHAT? Introduction. Students who read single-syllable words often have difficulty reading multisyllabic words (Just and Carpenter, 1987).

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multisyllabic word reading chapter 8


Kathleen Sylva

May 5, 2011

what introduction
WHAT? Introduction

Students who read single-syllable words often have difficulty reading multisyllabic words (Just and Carpenter, 1987).

Explicit instruction in recognizing syllables and morphemes gives students additional strategies for reading longer words.

Students in fifth-grade and beyond must know how to decode multisyllabic words, as the majority of words they will find in text are seven or more letters, and two or more syllables.

Students must be able to “chunk” larger words into syllables as part of the process of recognizing it.

what is a syllable
Whatis a syllable?
  • A syllable is a word or part of a word pronounced as a unit.
  • A syllable may contain more than one vowel letter, but the letters will represent only one vowel sound.
  • The ability to segment and blend syllables facilitates the accurate and rapid identification of multisyllabic words (Ehri 1995).
what are the six major syllable types
What are the six major syllable types?
  • Closed: A syllable ending in one or more consonants and having a short-vowel sound spelled with one vowel letter.
  • Open: A syllable ending with a long-vowel sound spelled with one vowel letter.
  • Vowel Combination: A syllable with a short-vowel, long-vowel, or dipthong sound spelled with a vowel combination.
  • r-Controlled: A syllable containing a letter combination made up of a vowel followed by the letter r.
  • Vowel-Consonant e: A syllable with a long-vowel sound spelled with one vowel letter followed by one consonant and a silent e.
  • Consonant-le: A final, separate syllable containing a consonant followed by the letters le.
what is syllabication
Whatis syllabication?

Syllabication is the division of a multisyllabic word into separate syllables, with each syllable containing one vowel sound.

Syllabication is considered by some to be an important strategy that helps students read words.


what are the approaches to syllabication
What are the approaches to syllabication?

“There are basically three different research-based approaches to teaching students how to decode longer multisyllabic words.” (Archer et al. 2003)

1. Using syllable types and division principals.

2. Identifying affixes or word parts.

3. Using flexible syllabication strategies.

what are syllable types and division principles
What are syllable types and division principles?
  • Division principles emphasize the identifying and reading six common types of syllables.
  • Students are introduced to the vowel sound within each common type of syllable.
  • Henry (2003) suggests that students first practice the identification of syllable types in single-syllable words before identifying them in multisyllabic words.
  • According to Shefelbine and Newman (2004) open and closed syllables make up about 75% of syllables and are called “the basic building blocks of polysyllabic decoding.” Knowledge of open and closed syllables increases students’ ability to read multisyllabic words.
what do the principles do to help students
What do the principles do to help students?

Unlike rigid rules that are too complicated and numerous to be helpful, familiarity and flexibility with syllable-division principles help students to develop strategies for reading longer words (Carreker 2005).

These principles help novice readers “see” the chunks, or patterns of letters, in multisyllabic words and guide correct pronunciation (Moats 2005).

Certain more useful or reliable principles are worthwhile pointing out because they do get readers closer to identifying a multisyllabic word by providing a way to approximate the pronunciation (Chall and Popp 1996; Blevins 2006).

what about dictionary based syllabication rules
What about dictionary-based syllabication rules?

Spoken language syllable divisions often do not coincide with the conventions for dividing written syllables. –Moats, 2005

Use caution when looking up syllable breaks in a dictionary because most dictionaries divide words in a way that has little to do with the spoken word.

For example, when sounding out a word, it matters little, whether a student pronounces simple as “simp-le” or “sim-ple.”

What is important is that each unit is pronounceable (Adams et al. 1990).

what are other syllable division principles
What are other syllable division principles?

Divide two-syllable compound words between the two smaller words (e.g., in-side, pan-cake).

Inflectional endings such as –ing, -er, -es, -ed, and –estoften form separate syllables.

Never separate the letters in a consonant or vowel digraph, vowel dipthong, or r-controlled vowel across syllable divisions.

One of the syllables in a multisyllabic word usually receives more stress, or emphasis. In two-syllable words, the stress usually falls on the first syllable (e.g., mo’ment, fa’mous). In the unstressed syllable, the vowel sound often is “reduced” to a schwa (e.g., wa’gon, cac’tus).

what about affixes as syllables
What about affixes as syllables?

Some researchers suggest teaching students to use root words and affixes to decode multisyllabic words (Venexky 1970; Chomsky 1970; McFeely 1974).

Syllable divisions often occur between word parts. Affixes that function as syllables are worth teaching because they are “limited in number, occur frequently, and especially in the case of suffixes are reasonably consistent across words” Shefelbine and Newman (2004).

In the part-by-part strategy, students are taught the pronunciation of an affix in isolation, asked to identify and say it in a word, and then instructed to read the whole word (Archer et al. 2003; Engelmann et al. 19999). The assumption is that students will develop a strategy for attacking multisyllabic words as a result of extensive practice in reading long words and being exposed to recurring letter patterns (Archer et al. 2003).

According to Carnine et al. (2006), this type of instruction should begin with the introduction of the most common suffixes ( -s, -er, est, -ing, -le, -ed, -y).

what is flexible syllabication
What is flexible syllabication?

Students need to be taught flexible strategies for unlocking the pronunciation of long words. –Archer et al., 2006

Rather than using rigid, rule-dictated syllabication, students can be taught to recognize spelling units or “chunks” that can be decoded (Bhattacharya and Ehri 2004; Archer et al. 2003, 2006).

The flexible strategy is based on the information that (1) a high percentage of multisyllabic words contain at least one prefix or suffix and (2) each syllable contains one vowel sound.

The program teaches students to segment words into parts by identifying the affixes and then the vowel sounds in the rest of the word (Archer et al. 2006).

what is the best way to teach syllabication
What is the best way to teach syllabication?

The best way we have found to teach and learn syllabication of long words is to be playful, correcting errors with cheer and laughing easily at humorous misreadings. – Chall & Popp, 1996

In past decades, students were taught a set of syllabication rules, but today research supports a shift from rigid rules to a more flexible approach to decoding longer words (Archer, Gleason, and Vachon 3002, 2006.)

why multisyllabic word reading
Why? Multisyllabic Word Reading

Many big words occur infrequently, but when they do occur they carry much of the meaning and content of what is being read. –Cunningham, 1998

  • From fifth grade on, the average student encounters about 10,000 new words each year. Most of these words are multisyllabic (Nogy and Wnderson 1984).
  • Without the ability to decode these words, the reader is unable to understand the vocabulary and therefore equally unable to extract meaning from what is being read (Perfetti 1986; Archer et al. 2003),
  • Several studies have shown that teaching students strategies for decoding longer words improves their decoding ability (Archer et al. 2006).
when multisyllabic word reading
When? Multisyllabic Word Reading

Researchers generally agree that instruction in multisyllabic word reading can begin after students have mastered the decoding of single-syllable words.

Other prerequisites include the ability to pronounce common sound/spelling correspondences, especially vowel combinations, to identify open and closed syllables, and to pronounce affixes in isolation (Archer et al. 2003; Carnine et al. 2006; Moats 2005; Shefelbine and Newman 2004).

Assessment in multisyllabic word reading should begin in mid-second grade in order to plan effective intervention (Shefelbine 1990).

how multisyllabic word reading
How? Multisyllabic Word Reading

Teach decoding of multiple syllable words by following best practices protocol:

  • Assess
  • Introduce
  • Teach/Model
  • Guided Practice
  • Application ( Independent Practice)
how ideas for the classroom
How? Ideas for the classroom

There are a great many ideas for teaching decoding of multiple syllable words found in Chapter 8, pages 272-318.

These ideas can easily be adapted to meet the specific needs of students in any classroom whether students are beginning to read multisyllabic words, or are older readers who are struggling to read and understand multisyllabic words.