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).
May 5, 2011
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.
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.
-BHATTACHARYA & EHRI, 2004
“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.
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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.)
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
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).
Teach decoding of multiple syllable words by following best practices protocol:
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.