By the time most of us first encountered Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, we were fluent readers. However, I am sure that you can recall the sense of cognitive dissonance that the nonsense words in this poem created.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Essentially, you were having the same experience that many beginning readers have when they see words on a page for the first time. When we encounter nonsense words, we are forced to rely on our knowledge of the alphabetic code, rather than memorization, to read the words. Phonics instruction supplies learners with strategies for approaching unfamiliar words in text. In fact, research has shown that using nonsense words in phonics instruction can increase a student’s ability to read words with accuracy and automaticity. Here are a few benefits of using nonsense words. ...