High-frequency words are at the core of English reading instruction. The common approach to teach these words to children is by asking them to memorize them using their visual memory. But is this the right approach to teaching high-frequency words?
An increasing number of reading experts are starting to question these methodologies for teaching high-frequency words to children. Science has debunked the common belief that visual memory has a role in learning to read.
Brain scans show that the parts of the brain activated while performing visual memory tasks are different than the parts of the brain activated while reading.
According to an analysis by the Learning Reading Hub that looking at the most frequently used high-frequency words in primary school lists (often referred to as ‘sight words’), less than 30% are non-decodable phonetically.
That means that more than 70% (71.82%) are, in fact, decodable phonetically.
Besides, among the decodable ones (71.82%), almost 40% (37.97%) follow pretty basic phonic rules.
On top of that, among the non-decodable words, almost 100% have some decodable parts.