Decoding refers to the ability to read single words in isolation. Children must first learn that individual speech sounds, or phonemes, are represented by symbols, or letters. The ability to identify and combine the sounds that make up words, known as phonemic awareness, is the framework for this sound-symbol connection. Mapping sounds to letter symbols is a first step in the reading process. As students begin to discover the words that are created when these sounds are put together, the foundation for decoding abilities is built. This “cracking of the code” is a significant component of learning to read and of gaining meaning from the reading process. Good reading comprehension depends upon a student’s rapid and automatic decoding of single words. This chart describes some important skills related to decoding words.
|Student can rhyme and play with sounds in words.
|Student has difficulty making rhymes or playing with sounds in words.
|Student can blend syllables and sounds together accurately to make a word.
Student can segment (or take apart) a word into its individual sounds.
|Student has difficulty putting syllables or sounds together to make a word.
Student has difficulty segmenting (or breaking down) words into separate sounds.
|Student knows sound-symbol correspondences and can sound out individual words. Student is able to decode an appropriate number of words for his/her age or grade.
|Student does not know sound-symbol correspondences and cannot sound out individual words. Student is not able to decode an appropriate number of words based on his/her age or grade.
|Student has built a repertoire of words which he/she can read automatically, that is, accurately and rapidly without excessive labor or effort.
|Student seems to labor through decoding words, and has not established a repertoire of words that he/she reads easily or automatically.