When students are trying to read text of any length, they need to have a technique or process for "breaking the written code" of the words. Without one, students wouldn't see words--they would just see a series of meaningless marks on a page.
Learning the alphabet and the sounds associated with individual letters provides students with the "raw material" they need to begin breaking the code, but decoding strategies provide them with the process for determining how to read and pronounce the combinations of letters that form words.
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Decoding is the process of breaking a written word down to its individual parts and determining the word's pronunciation based on the common sound/letter patterns of English. This shows students how to read a word of any length to determine what it says.
Decoding skills play a critical role in reading ability, but for students to become truly literate, they also need to be able to spell the words they hear and say, not just read the words they see. These "reverse" skills are known as encoding skills. When students know how to encode, they are able to convert sounds to letters and combine letters to create words.
The Reading Horizons method provides students with highly effective strategies for decoding words and encoding words. In fact, once students have internalized the skills taught through our strategies, they will be able to read more than 80 % of the words of English! When students experience that rate of success, they become more motivated and confident about learning to read, setting in motion a rewarding cycle of further student involvement and even greater success in reading.