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Tutor Tip of the Month: Pronunciation and Accuracy in Reading

(from the Memphis Literacy Council, Sept. 2001 Tutor Tips)

Being able to pronounce words quickly and accurately when reading is an important skill. If a student recognizes words easily, he or she can concentrate on the meaning of what is read. But if the student spends a lot of effort figuring out how to pronounce words, there will be little energy left to comprehend what is read. Here are several strategies for learning how to pronounce words more quickly.

How can I figure out what a word means when I don’t recognize it?

  • Use context clues.
  • Look for help from the author such as synonyms, explanations, examples or definitions. For example: The cat is nocturnal, so it’s up all night.
  • Make a list of difficult words in the passage and their meanings.
  • Use an electronic dictionary

How can I figure out how to pronounce words quickly when I’m reading out loud?

  • Read more slowly when reading out loud.
  • See if the word is a compound word.
  • Say the parts of the word you know.
  • Say the word in a whisper before you say it out loud.

What can I do about adding, omitting, changing, or substituting letters or words when I read? Write this checklist on an index card. Use it to figure out the types of errors you make. Awareness is the key; you can’t correct something you aren’t aware of.

  • Add endings
  • Add letters
  • Add words
  • Substitute different words
  • Leave off endings
  • Leave out letters
  • Leave out words

Read into a tape recorder to find the errors you are making. Read a paragraph from one of your books. Use your normal reading speed. Rewind the tape. Listen to the paragraph you recorded as you read along in the book. Whenever you have made an error in your taped reading, mark it on your checklist. Circle the categories in which you have the most check marks. Then read the selection again slowly, concentrating on the types of errors you make.

You can find the unedited version (with much more detail) of this selection in Help Yourself, How to Take Advantage of Your Learning Styles, by Gail Murphy Sonbuchner.


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