7 poor processes for teaching word recognition

p49_dinasaurWord recognition is necessary for fluent reading.  But with an emphasis on phonics ONLY, word recognition is left either left to chance or not being taught well in school.  One of the first words you can be expected to read or write is your name and the easy way to do that is through word recognition.

There are at least 7 ways that are poor strategies for developing word recognition, that can be improved, by the work done by Empowering Learning with the aid of neuroscience:

  1. Being stressed –  when you are stressed it is very difficult to do anything and that includes reading and writing. Grounding, breathing and being relaxed will improve this.
  2. 3 positions for reading – try reading looking down at the desk, then with the book slightly tipped up then with the book right up in front of your eyes.  Which is the best position for you? Flat on the table is normally more difficult and if you have any visual stress with the letters moving around on the page, don’t look down it puts you into negative emotions or nasty self-talk.
  3. Expecting that decoding words through phonics will lead to word recognition. This works for some but others drop into mild or severe learning difficulties. It is a poor strategy as neuroscience tells us that word recognition and decoding words work in different parts of the brain and it relies on luck to make this migration. Read on and see how this can be improved.
  4. Techniques where you look at the word, cover it and then attempt to write it.  When students are looking down at a desk they are not in the best position for getting their brain to access their word form area that is part of their internal mental imagery.  When students look up they will have better access to mental imagery, vital for word recognition.  For example, think of a dog; looking up will give you the best picture, looking down will get you into your emotions (maybe frightened) and self-talk (thinking he will bt me). The series that works best is Lookup, capture the image, see the image and write it down (without looking down at the paper).
  5. Focusing on high-frequency words does not encourage word recognition, most don’t have mental images.  Start with object words until the student is confident of visualising words.
  6. Modelling plasticine is a useful technique but is slow and repetitive and it does not encourage the student to look up and see their own mental images
  7. Nonsense words focus on phonics and we certainly don’t want students creating mental images of nonsense words.


Join our series of Changing Dyslexia for a new decade and find out do word recognition easily and effectively in minutes, whether or not you are Dyslexic.  This work is all based on how people who do word recognition successfully do it, it is just a skill to learn.

#dyslexia #wordrecognition #nonsensewords #highfrequencywords #lookcoverwrite #decoding #empoweringlearning


About olivehickmott

I am a Forensic Learning coach, showing people how they can improve their own learning and change their health. Working with creative neurodivergent students is a joy, as they learn new skills to overcome many of their learning challenges.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s