Reading Multisyllabic Words

Are you looking for a better way to teach a student to decode longer words? Do some of your students, or maybe your own children, tend to leap to a wild guess when faced with an unfamiliar multisyllabic word? Have you tried the various syllable methods and found they can be both confusing to teach and confusing for the student to implement? If so, I'm not surprised. After all, how many adults today can even list the six syllable types described in most systems of multisyllable decoding, much less explain how to apply that knowledge to reading an unfamiliar word? So, how did they learn to read themselves? Clearly something else is afoot here.

A New, Well-Tested, Strategy for Reading Multisyllabic Words

Some years ago, while working with many struggling readers one-on-one, I developed a different strategy for decoding multisyllabic words and began teaching it to each of my students. Their response was uniformly positive, so positive that most of them quickly abandoned their traditional guessing habit in favor of implementing the OnTrack Reading Multisyllable Method

You can find it in two forms. The entire method is available free here on the OnTrack Reading website, including all of the necessary worksheets. Yes, it's free. However, if the child, or even adult, that you're working with is also uncomfortable with accurately reading even one-syllable words and has poor knowledge of phonics generally, then I would recommend the OnTrack Reading Advanced Code Phonics Workbook. The workbook includes the entire OnTrack Reading Multisyllable Method, but also covers the English phonics code in depth.

Thoughts from Some Who've Used the Phonics Workbook

Here are two comments from previous users of the advanced code phonics workbook regarding the multisyllable decoding strategy, both taken from the reviews of the workbook at the publisher's website.

The first is from a parent:

My favorite thing about OnTrack is the section at the back of the workbook that presents rules to help a student break down three and four syllable words. These pages have helped my daughter tremendously. Even my older daughter, after overhearing our sessions, told me she now uses this strategy to decode unfamiliar words.  I haven't personally used this program for remediation, but I did recommend it to a friend who had a struggling reader. They are using it very successfully, and the student is now reading on grade level. They couldn't be happier, and neither could we. I would recommend OnTrack Reading to anyone who is looking for a firm foundation in reading.

Note the bolded statement about the older daughter adopting the method on her own. The method is so simple to use, and so obviously effective, that an older child in this case took to it readily on her own. Why? Most likely because it made sense to her so she tried it, and apparently liked it.

Here's the other review comment from a different source, an educator:

The book also includes an ingenious method by which to teach multi-syllable decoding - which should be tried by any teacher struggling to teach a reliable strategy/approach for reading two and three syllable words!

Notice the word ingenious. Some of the synonyms of ingenious are original, innovative, and pioneering. The word ingenious was well-chosen because you won't find another multisyllable decoding approach like the OnTrack Reading Multisyllable Method anywhere. It's not an adaptation of any existing method. It's original,  it works, and it's easy to learn. And, by the way, it also works well for four and five syllable words.

The OnTrack Reading Advanced Code Workbook has been used with hundreds of children by the author, many of them struggling readers, and it was amazing to watch them react to the multisyllable method (which we would reach quickly, as soon as they were relatively comfortable decoding one-syllable words in the workbook lessons.) It was at that point that they would finally see the payoff to what we were doing, i.e., that they were learning something that they could efficiently use to make reading easier for them. The guessing would quickly diminish and they would begin diligently, and systematically, attacking each new, long, unfamiliar word. Why? Because they'd finally found something superior to their usual guessing strategy where they had been relying upon word beginnings, word endings, words within the word, and context, to come up with something that made sense to them.

Now take a look at the page on this site Choosing the Right Phonics Program. It will help you decide whether to proceed directly to the free multisyllable lessons, or to go the workbook route instead. (You will find the direct link to the free lessons on that page.)

Or, if you've already decided to purchase the workbook, go to the OnTrack Reading Advanced Code Phonics Workbook page where you will find the link to the publisher and a link to download the instructions as a free pdf. The cost of the workbook is quite reasonable when you consider that it's a complete phonics program and includes the entire multisyllable method as well.