5 Tips on How to Teach Reading

5 Tips on How to Teach Reading
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The Editorial Team October 16, 2012

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Learning to read is not an easy task, and neither is teaching someone how to read. One of the most important things a teacher needs to remember when learning how to teach reading is to keep it simple. To increase the probability that all of your students learn to read, there are five essential literacy skills you need to teach them.

1. Teach the Alphabetic Principle

The alphabetic principle refers to the understanding that letters represent the sounds of our language. Children need to have the ability to relate a sound with a letter and then use the sounds to develop words. In the English language, the letters of the alphabet are used alone to represent sounds, which is referred to as the basic code; or in groups of two, three and four, which is considered the advanced code.

Because our written language consists of advanced code, teaching a child to read becomes more challenging. The advanced code letters can have more than one sound and sounds can be represented by more than one letter. This advanced code is what makes reading fluently and spelling accurately more difficult. However, when the code is taught correctly, many literacy difficulties are eliminated.

Teaching Students to Decode

To help your students decode the alphabet, they need to learn how to sound words out. Once a student learns the sound each letter makes, he or she can begin putting words together. Encourage your students to say each sound individually when they are reading a short word. The more your students decode a specific word, the more fluent they will become at identifying that particular word.


As your students are decoding a word, consider having them point to each letter using a finger puppet or magic wand.

2. Teach Phonemic Awareness

The ability of a student to hear and use the individual sounds of a word is part of phonemic and phonological awareness. The smallest sounds in our language are the Phonemes.

There is a strong correlation to phonemic awareness and reading proficiency. While phonics is an essential component of spelling and reading, it should not be the main focus. A student needs to learn how to spell and sound out diagraphs, and learn the numerous rules that our language follows.


Students can increase their phonemic awareness by learning word families, which are groups of words that rhyme. Once your student learns one word from the family, he or she can easily learn the others. For example, the word family related to cat would be hat, mat and bat. Use these word families to assist your students in seeing patterns in reading.

3. Teach Reading Fluency

“Reading fluency” refers to the ability to read text quickly, accurately and with proper expression. A fluent reader demonstrates an automatic and effortless ability to read words in text that is connected. When a student can read as though they were speaking, they read fluently.


No matter what grade level you teach, have your students read aloud to help them become fluent readers.

4. Teach Sight Words/High-Frequency Words

Sight words are the most common words we use in our written language. Many times, these words are difficult to decode because they don’t follow the typical phonics rules. These words have to be memorized. Lists of sight words that can be beneficial to your students are the Fry List and Dolch List.


You can use fun games like Sight Word Bingo to help your students memorize sight words.

5. Teach Reading Comprehension

Successful readers can extract useful information from the text they read. Traditional comprehension activities are essential when teaching your students how to read. You can evaluate reading comprehension using class discussions, book reports, work sheets and even in-class skits based on reading material. However, your students’ comprehension skills will not improve unless they are reading fluently, so make sure that you don’t spend all of your time teaching comprehension.


No matter which grade level you teach, have various reading materials from different genres available to offer your students a wide range of topics. Students comprehend more when reading material that is relevant to their lives.

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