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Comprehensive Word Lists

By Rodney Everson • Updated Oct 3rd, 2023

OnTrack Reading Phonics Program

Teach your student the phonics advanced code in as little as 8 weeks with our 170-page workbook and instruction manual.

The individual word lists available here at OnTrack Reading are offered free for you to download and use as you please. For your convenience, the full set can also be purchased as a PDF digital download or a spiral-bound book.

Author’s Note

Please note: The words on these lists are divided into chunks, not syllables, with the chunk boundaries determined by the method used in the OnTrack Reading Multisyllable Method. Do not use these lists to determine syllables.

One-Syllable Word Lists Organized by the Vowel Sound

Multisyllable Word Lists Organized by the Vowel Sounds

Word Lists Organized Around the Spelling of Consonant Sounds

How the Lists Were Created

The source of the words for the lists was The Kingfisher Illustrated Pocket Dictionary, an illustrated dictionary for children age 9 and up. The dictionary has approximately 8,500 primary entries, of which about 7,000 were used, including nearly all of the one-syllable and two-syllable words, so the lists contain most of the root words in the speaking vocabulary of a young child.

Word lists were drawn from a 7,000 word database created from a child's dictionary

Each word was entered into a database program and broken down into its component sounds with the number of syllables also entered for each word. This resulted in a 7,000 word database that can be searched for, say, all two-syllable words containing the sound /sh/.

In addition, each sound was matched to its spelling, so not only could all two-syllable words containing the sound /sh/ be located, but so could the subset of such words where the /sh/ sound was spelled, say, "ci." This search would generate words like special and crucial, while ignoring words like ship and nation, for example.

How Comprehensive are the Lists?

If it's a reasonably common one-syllable word, it's probably in the database.

Many two syllable words, however, were left out if they were compound words. For example background, backside, backstage, and backstroke were left out, although backbone and backpack were included.

Words not likely to be used by a child were omitted, such as cockatoo, cockle, and cockerel.

Extensions were sometimes omitted, so although backward and publish were included, backwards and publisher were not. Also, root words with suffixes are usually omitted, so while love and lovely are in the database, lover, loving, loved and lovable are not.

Of the longer words, approximately one-third were omitted. For example from page 154 the words pottery, poverty, practical, precaution, precious, precipice, prejudice, premises, and premium were included, while practically, predecessor, and prehistoric were not.

The Sense in Which the Lists Are Comprehensive

If the word list claims to list one-syllable words with the sound /ow/, for example, then every one-syllable word in the 7,000 word database that contains the sound /ow/ should be on that particular list.

If the word list claims to list just words with the sound /z/ spelled se, then every word in the 7,000 word database that contains that spelling se representing the /z/ sound will appear on that list.

Are there more words with an /ow/ sound in them, or more where /z/ is spelled se? No doubt there are, but if they aren't in the database, they aren't on any of the lists.

Before you download a particular list, you might be interested in reviewing Organization of the Word Lists.

Otr wordlists cover digital

Comprehensive Word Lists

Features over 100 word lists built from 7,000 words input from a children's dictionary. Lists are organized by vowel and consonant sounds and cover most common spellings. Useful in the classroom for building curriculum aids such as short stories that emphasize specific sounds and spellings. Multisyllable words are also included, chunked according to the method taught in the OnTrack Reading Advanced Code Phonics Workbook.
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