Strategies for Decoding Words

  • Word-Attack Strategies
    Word-attack strategies help students decode, pronounce, and understand unfamiliar words. They help students attack words piece by piece or from a different angle. Model and instruct students:

    Use Picture Clues

    -          Look at the picture.

    -          Are there people, objects, or actions in the picture that might make sense in the sentence?

    Sound Out the Word

    -          Start with the first letter, and say each letter-sound out loud.

    -          Blend the sounds together and try to say the word. Does the word make sense in the sentence?

    Look for Chunks in the Word

    -          Look for familiar letter chunks. They may be sound/symbols, prefixes, suffixes, endings, whole words, or base words.

    -          Read each chunk by itself. Then blend the chunks together and sound out the word. Does that word make sense in the sentence?

    Connect to a Word You Know

    -          Think of a word that looks like the unfamiliar word.

    -          Compare the familiar word to the unfamiliar word. Decide if the familiar word is a chunk or form of the unfamiliar word.

    -          Use the known word in the sentence to see if it makes sense. If so, the meanings of the two words are close enough for understanding.

    Reread the Sentence

    -          Read the sentence more than once.

    -          Think about what word might make sense in the sentence. Try the word and see if the sentence makes sense.

    Keep Reading

    -          Read past the unfamiliar word and look for clues.

    -          If the word is repeated, compare the second sentence to the first. What word might make sense in both?

    Use Prior Knowledge

    -          Think about what you know about the subject of the book, paragraph, or sentence.

    -          Do you know anything that might make sense in the sentence? Read the sentence with the word to see if it makes










    *Adapted from