Reading Teacher

Sight Words for New to English Readers

Teaching Sight Words to New English Readers

For new readers of English, one of the most important skills they need to learn is recognizing sight words. Sight words are words that cannot be easily sounded out and must be learned by sight. Teaching sight words to these students presents a unique challenge, but with the right approaches, the process can be successful and rewarding for both the student and teacher.


One of the most effective approaches is to use a combination of research-based instructional strategies and playful activities. From a research-based standpoint, it’s important to provide many opportunities for practice and to build a strong sight word vocabulary. This can be done through activities such as writing the words on a sand tray or making a game out of finding the words in stories. Another key component is to provide visual cues to help students better understand the words. For example, students can draw pictures to represent the words or use objects from around the room to create a visual representation of the words.

Picture 1

In addition to research-based strategies, there are also many playful activities that can make learning sight words more enjoyable. Word building games, such as rhyming and matching, are great ways to practice identifying the words. For example, students can match word cards to create sentences, or they can play a game of tag where they take turns saying a sight word and then tap another player if they can’t think of one. BINGO and other educational games are also helpful for introducing and reinforcing sight words.


Finally, providing students with tactile activities can be beneficial in helping them master sight words. This includes having them trace their fingers over the words or shape the letters with clay or Playdough. It’s also a good idea to use music to teach sight words. For example, students can learn the words by singing or rapping them, or playing rhythm instruments.


In summary, teaching sight words to new English readers may seem intimidating, but with the right approaches, it doesn’t have to be. Research-based strategies such as providing plenty of practice opportunities, teaching words in context, and using visual cues can all be effective in helping students learn and master sight words. In addition, fun activities such as word building games and educational games make learning more enjoyable.

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