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Importance of Letter, Word & Punctuation Recognition

Instructor: Tommi Waters

TK Waters has a bachelor's degree in literature and religious studies and a master's degree in religious studies and teaches Hebrew Bible at Western Kentucky University.

In this lesson, we will discuss how we use letter, word, and punctuation recognition to determine meaning and sound--even if we do not know each word separately.

Language Component Recognition

The key to learning to read well and effectively lies in being able to recognize letters, words, and punctuation in the language and how they change the meaning and inflection of the sentence. ''It's time for bed?'' has a different meaning and inflection from ''It's time for bed.'' simply because of the punctuation difference. The way you can read the word ''for'' so quickly is because it is a sight word that you do not have to sound out and for ''time'' and ''bed,'' you can probably recognize the look of the word and how the order of the letters creates meaning.

So how are you able to recognize all these language components? This is probably because, when you were an early reader, someone taught you these sight words, letter combinations and order, and what different punctuation means. In this lesson, we will discuss some of the basics of language component recognition that should be taught to early readers to be able to better understand the English language.

Letter Recognition

Letters are the most basic component of any language. If you cannot recognize letters, it will be difficult if not impossible to learn to recognize words, phrases, and meanings. Beyond just learning the alphabet, there are ways for early readers to learn to be able to read quickly and efficiently. One of these is focusing on the first and last letters of a word. Scientists have proven that your brain can read a sentence like this, ''Raeidng is ectixing'' almost as easily as it can read ''Reading is exciting.'' This is because your brain can recognize the placement of the first and last letters--as long as they stay in the same spot--and that the letters in the middle are components of the word. While teaching early readers about letter placement is important, one of the best ways to gain this skill is simply through practice. Flash cards could be helpful for some early readers to see the combination of letters and associate meaning with it.

Another important aspect of letter recognition is phonetics which is the sounds letters and letter combinations make when spoken. While letter placement recognition can help you read quickly, like in the previous example, sometimes you will stumble across words that are not in your vocabulary--even for well-read people. Being able to use phonetics to ''sound out'' a word is a helpful skill to determine the meaning of words you do not know. Sometimes we will stumble upon a word that looks foreign to us, but when we sound it out, we can recognize that it is a word we have heard and know the meaning of.

Word Recognition

Even though letters are the building blocks of words, words are still a component of a larger picture and being able to recognize certain words is key to good reading skills. Most basically, being able to determine what is a word and what is a space is an essential skill. For example, you would read ''She went to the store'' without much trouble, but ''Shewenttothestore'' poses new challenges when trying to determine meaning because there is no space between separate words. Being able to recognize these spaces is important when reading aloud to allow pauses between words instead of running it all together and to be able to determine the meaning of each separate word.

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