Word Study: Everything You Need to Know

This is used to refer to the critical investigation of word patterns in the English language. Instead of teaching children phonics using independent rules, word study encourages the in-depth investigation of closely spelled words. This way, the child knows to look for general rules that apply to this group of words, which are spelled in the same way.

A good example would be engaging in a word study of why words like love, have, and give don’t have long vowels. By studying these words in a group, the child knows how to identify words that obey the same rules.

Word study has two key objectives: to help students achieve reading fluency with a strong vocabulary and to give them the opportunity to fully manipulate and explore words. It’s important to understand that word study is about comprehending spelling patterns and not about memorizing spelling words.

Students need to have the ability to properly recognize words to become fully literate. They also need to be able to adequately use written words to communicate meaning. As word study is based on phonics vocabulary and spelling, it’s a way for learners to fully examine and manipulate words. Learning phonics, spelling patterns, word meanings, sight words, and decoding leads to comprehending the basics of written words. It helps students construct and communicate meaning.

Educators have come to realize that rote practice and drill isn’t the most effective way to master a reading/writing skill. Learners need the opportunity to think critically and manipulate words along with their concepts. This enables them to generalize words based on spelling and other commonalities. Comprehending word recognition, spelling, and having a strong vocabulary go beyond memorizing some rules. The most useful way to become proficient in words and their characteristics is to have lots of opportunities to explore them in different contexts.

Teachers can choose from a broad range of word study activities to help students improve vocabulary, word recognition, and spelling. Pattern sorting is an effective word study activity that teaches learners to categorize words. These categories can be based on how specific sounds are expressed in a word. It helps students understand vowel patterns, silent letters, and contractions. Word study lessons involving proofreading can help students develop an eye for how written words should look. Word search is another useful word study activity. Here, students take some word categories and search for examples of words in these categories by combing through textbooks, books, or newspapers.

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