Reading is the act of processing text in order to derive meaning. To learn to read, children must develop both fluent word reading and language comprehension (Gough & Tunmer,1986). Fluent word reading stems from underlying skills: phonological awareness, phonics, decoding, and automatic word recognition.
Advanced Phonics refers to the knowledge and strategies required to decode multisyllabic words, including morphology and information about the meaning, pronunciation, and parts of speech of words gained from knowledge of prefixes, roots, and suffixes (Florida Center for Reading Research Glossary of Reading Terms). There is also an emphasis on more complex spelling as phonics skills advance.
Morphology refers to the knowledge of the meaningful word parts in the language (IES Practice Guide "Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade" ).
Advanced phonics is sometimes called word analysis. This is because advanced phonics involves breaking words down into their smallest units of meaning — morphemes.
Learning to recognize letter patterns and word parts, and understanding that sounds relate to letters in predictable and unpredictable ways, will help students decode and read increasingly complex words (Institute for Education Sciences ).
Studies reviewed by the National Reading Panel (2000) demonstrated that "systematic phonics instruction produces significant benefits for students in kindergarten through 6th grade and for children having difficulty learning to read" and the panel also determined that "older children receiving phonics instruction were better able to decode and spell words and to read text orally." Additionally, advanced phonics teaching strategies are effective in helping students internalize and develop fluency with long words (Moats & Tolman, 2019).
"Students with a large sight vocabulary and very proficient phonic decoding are going to be the ones who move most fluently through text" (Kilpatrick, 2015).
For systematic instruction, lessons build on previously taught information, from simple to complex (Brady, 2011). A carefully planned sequence for instruction, similar to a builder's blueprint for a house, generally starts with regular spelling patterns and progresses intentionally to more challenging patterns.
A gradual release approach involves explicit instruction and modeling; followed by active guided practice; and finally, independent application and transfer to text (adapted from Pearson & Gallagher, 1983).
Explicit instruction involves direct explanation. The teacher's language is concise and specific. Explicit instruction means that the actions of the teacher are clear, unambiguous, direct, and visible. This makes it clear what the students are to do and learn. Nothing is left to guess work (Florida Center for Reading Research Glossary of Reading Terms).
Interactive practice is hands-on, engaging, and multimodal, such as moving tiles into sound boxes as words are analyzed, using hand gestures to support memory for associations, building words with letter tiles, or assembling sentences with words on cards. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are often paired with one another to foster multimodal language learning (adapted from International Dyslexia Association). Effective guided practice includes corrective feedback to students.
Linking direct and explicit instruction in decoding with encoding produces positive gains in both reading and spelling. Providing practice with decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling and writing) of letter-sound correspondences positively impacts reading, writing, and spelling (Weiser & Mathes, 2011).
English learners should have equal opportunity to meaningfully participate in all foundational skills instruction. These recommendations and resources will further support English learners to develop advanced phonics skills. Also, please refer to WIDA Can Dos and WIDA Instructional Supports.
Taking Bilingualism into Account
Supports for English Learners
Bialystok, E. (2002). Acquisition of literacy in bilingual children: A framework for research. Language Learning, 52 (1), 159–199.
Brady, S. A. (2011). Efficacy of phonics teaching for reading outcomes: Indications from post-NRP research. In S. A. Brady, D. Braze, & C. A. Fowler (Eds.), New directions in communication disorders research. Explaining individual differences in reading: Theory and evidence (p. 69–96). Psychology Press.
Droop, M., & Verhoeven, L. (2003). Language proficiency and reading ability in first- and second-language learners. Reading Research Quarterly, 38 (1), 78–103.
Durgunoğlu, A. Y. (2002). Cross-linguistic transfer in literacy development and implications for language learners. Annals of Dyslexia, 52, 189–204.
Gough, P. B., & Tunmer, W. E. (1986). Decoding, Reading, and Reading Disability. Remedial and Special Education, 7, 6–10.
Helman, L. A. (2004). Building on the sound system of Spanish: Insights from the alphabetic spellings of English-language learners. The Reading Teacher, 57 (5), 452–460.
Kilpatrick, D. (2015). Essentials of assessing, preventing, and overcoming reading difficulties (Essentials of psychological assessment). Boston: John Wiley and Sons.
Krashen, S.D., & Terrell, T.D. (1983). The natural approach: Language acquisition in the classroom. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Linan-Thompson, S. and Vaughn. S. (2007) Research-based Methods of Reading Instruction for English Learners, Grades K–4. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Moats. L.C.& Tolman, C. A. (2019). LETRS (3rd edition). Voyager Sopris Learning.
Pearson, P. D. & Gallagher, M.C. (1983). The Instruction of Reading Comprehension, Contemporary Educational Psychology, 8, 1983, pp. 317–344.
Disclosure Statement: Reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Our office is not responsible for and does not in any way guarantee the accuracy of information in other sites accessible through links herein. DESE may supplement this list with other services and products that meet the specified criteria. For more information contact: RMB252@mass.gov.
Last Updated: March 14, 2023
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.