If you are evaluating a new reading series or instructional approach for reading, either for beginning readers or older reluctant readers, consider the issue of syllabication. Is it explicitly taught in order for students to become better readers? Many reading programs will include this as a spelling skill, but omit it when students are learning to decode words. Is the teaching method for this skill simple and clear? It should have just a few steps such as this:
1. Identify how many vowel sounds the word has. Every syllable must have one (and only one)vowel sound. Vowel combinations like the "oa" in boat only count as one sound. An "e" at the end of the word, that you know will be silent, such as like, doesn't count.
2. If a word has only one vowel sound, you can rest assured there is only one syllable and no need to divide.
3. If it has two or more vowel sounds, you must look at the consonants following each vowel sound and apply these two simple rules:
*One must run.
*Two must split.
For example, in the word "beside," the first vowel sound will be represented by e. Only one consonant follows the e, and then there is another vowel, signaling another syllable. So...one (consonant) must "run" to the next syllable. The word is divided into two syllables - be-side.
An example that follows the "two must split" rule is "subject." In this word, the first vowel is a u. Then there are two consonants before we come to the next vowel, signaling a new syllable. The word is split between the two consonants - sub-ject.
That is really all there is to it. If you are frustrated by a lack of reading proficiency and not sure what the problem is, consider syllabication. It might be the missing link for your students.
Watch this blog tomorrow for the next installment of Reading Teacher Tuesday to see syllabication in action with some beginning readers. You might also want to check out Reading Horizons to view their reading workshop on this topic.