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How to Teach 'Memory' Words

Updated: Aug 10




Memory words are the words that appear most frequently in text. Equating to approximately 50% of the words that we read, it is therefore important to be able to read these words with automaticity.


These words may also be referred to as sight words, high-frequency words, Dolch or Fry words. At The Reading Academy, we call them memory words as they need to be memorised. These words are to be read without sounding out the letters.


The benefit of memorising these words is that it allows a student to build speed and fluency when reading. Accuracy, speed and fluency can in turn improve

comprehension.


How to practise memory words:

  • Start with the Memory Word words flashcards. We suggest cutting them out to make flashcards or writing the individual words on index cards. Click here for free Memory Words flashcards: thereadingacademyonline.com/p/helping-your-child-with-dyslexia

  • Present each card, asking the child to read the word.

  • Make two piles (correct and incorrect)

  • If the child reads the word correctly, within 3 seconds, put the card in the correct pile.

  • If the child hesitates or does not read the word correctly in 3 seconds, supply the unfamiliar word and put the card in the incorrect pile.

  • Repeat until your child or student has 4 consecutive errors and do not present any new words.

  • Shuffle all the cards. Presenting one card at a time, read the word aloud. Your child/ student repeats after you (both correct and incorrect words).

  • Present the cards again, asking your child/ student to read each word.

  • Make two piles (correct and incorrect)

  • If your child/student reads the word correctly, within 3 seconds, put the card in the correct pile.

  • If your child/ student hesitates or does not read the word correctly in 3 seconds, supply the unfamiliar word and put the card in the incorrect pile.

  • Repeat this process a few more times. Do not add new cards during the same session, continue to practise the same words.

  • At the start of the next session, practise words from the previous session. If your child/ student can read all the words within 3 seconds, add new words and follow the same routine.

  • If your child/ student continues struggling with the words, practise reading the same words.

  • It is important to note that memory words need reviewing, whether or not your child/ student has read them correctly. Occasionally put ‘learned/ mastered’ words back into the ‘working’ pile for review.

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