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Affix: A general term that refers to prefixes and suffixes.

Alliteration: The repetition of the initial sound of each word in connected text (e.g., “Harry the happy hippo hula-hoops with Henrietta”).

Alphabetic principle: The concept that letters and letter combinations represent individual phonemes (sounds) in written words.

Analogy: A comparison of two sets of information based on a point of similarity. Analogies can be used as vocabulary exercises (e.g., “cat is to kitten as dog is to _____?”).

Antonym: A word opposite in meaning to another word.

Assessment: A process used to determine a child’s level of ability in different skill domains or the child’s progress in these areas. Assessment may be standardized or non-standardized as well as formative or summative.

Automatic word recognition: Effortless identification of words previously learned and stored in one’s mental dictionary. Often involves frequently occurring words (e.g. “the, and, to”).

Automaticity: A general term that refers to any skilled and complex behaviour that can be performed easily with little attention, effort, or conscious awareness. These behaviours become automatic following extended periods of training. For example, with practice and instruction, students become automatic at word recognition and are able to focus attention on constructing meaning from the text, rather than decoding.


Background knowledge: Knowledge a reader possesses based on previous experience (either through reading or through other experiences). The reader can form a connection between this knowledge and the current text.

Base word: A unit of meaning that can stand alone as a whole word (e.g., “friend, pig”), also called a free morpheme. Base words/morphemes are words from which many other words are formed (e.g., the base word “migrate” forms “migration, migrant, immigration, immigrant, migrating, migratory”).

Bias: The tendency to give more weight to some factor or situation that supports certain ideas or values, rather than remaining neutral.

Blending: Used during reading to combine the sounds together into a cohesive word (e.g., h-a-t = “hat”).


Cipher knowledge: The knowledge of the relationships between English spelling and sound of regular patterns (e.g., knowing “bone” allows the reader to read “cone, stone, phone”, but this knowledge does not help with the few irregular pronunciations such as “done” and “gone”). This knowledge is important for fluent decoding and reading.

Cloze task: This task requires a child to fill in the missing word or phrase within a passage using contextual information (e.g., “Row, row, row your boat gently down the ________”). A cloze assessment can be used to test reading comprehension, language comprehension, vocabulary, syntax, and semantics. When the child is given options (multiple choice) from which to select the appropriate word for each blank, the assessment is typically described as a "modified cloze task."

This is a process found in connected speech in which individual sounds are combined within words. Coarticulation occurs because when we are saying one sound, we begin to form the following sound. Some individual sounds within words become distorted, as they are not produced as isolated units (e.g., “ham”: the /m/ blends with the /a/ to distort the vowel).
Coarticulation can make it difficult for some children to hear the individual sounds/phonemes in words; therefore, the concept of phonemes needs to be explicitly brought to their attention through instruction.

Cognates: Words that are related to each other by virtue of being derived from a common origin (e.g., “decisive” and “decision”).

Comprehension: The ability to understand spoken or written information.

Concepts about print: These include the concepts that a text contains a message, that text flows from left to right and from top to bottom, and that individual words on the page correspond to individual spoken words. Understanding this structure of written English is a prerequisite to good decoding skills.

Connected text: Words that are linked (not isolated), as found in sentences, phrases, and paragraphs.

Consonant blend: Two or more consecutive consonants that retain their individual sounds (e.g., /bl/ in “block”; /str/ in “string”). May also be referred to as a consonant cluster.

Context clue: Information in the surrounding text that can help to clarify meaning of an unfamiliar word.

Correlation: The measure or extent to which two or more outcomes are related to each other (e.g., phonological awareness and reading ability).

Creative writing: Writing which incorporates children’s original thinking and feeling, stimulated by experience and imagination.

Cumulative instruction: Instruction that builds upon previously learned concepts.


Decodable text: Text in which a high proportion of words (80-90 percent) comprise sound-symbol relationships that have already been taught. It is used for the purpose of providing practice with specific decoding skills and is a bridge between learning phonics and the application of phonics in independent reading.

Decodable words: Words that contain phonic elements that were previously taught.

Decoding: The ability to translate print to speech sounds by employing knowledge of sound symbol correspondences; also the act of deciphering a new word by sounding it out.

Descriptive writing/expository writing: A formal writing style that serves to explain; utilizes several specifics structures; and always uses a topic sentence. Content may be nonfiction or fiction.

A type of test administered by a specialist, and used to determine a child’s specific abilities and deficits in a variety of areas such as reading, language, speech, or cognitive skills. Such tests will usually be given only if a child fails to make adequate progress after being given extra help in learning to read.

Dialogic reading: During story reading, the teacher/parent asks questions, adds information, and prompts the child to increase the sophistication of responses by expanding on his/her utterances.

Differentiated instruction: When the teacher matches the instruction to meet the different needs of all the learners in the classroom.

Digraphs: A group of two consecutive letters whose phonetic value is a single sound (e.g., /ea/ in “bread”; /ch/ in “chat”; /ng/ in “sing”).

Diphthong: A vowel sound produced by the tongue shifting position during articulation; a vowel that feels as if it has two parts. The following are examples of diphthongs in English: ow (as in “low”), ou (as in “loud”), oi (as in “coin”), ie (as in “tie”).

Direct instruction: The teacher defines and teaches a concept, guides students through its application, and arranges for extended guided practice until mastery is achieved.

Direct vocabulary instruction: Planned instruction to pre-teach new, important, and difficult words to ensure the quantity and quality of exposures to words that students will encounter in their reading.

Dyslexia: A language-based learning disability. Dyslexia is often referred to as a specific reading disorder and includes difficulties in fluent or correct word recognition, decoding, and spelling. It is thought to result from poor phonological awareness skills that are unexpected in comparison to the rest of the child’s abilities.


Encode: The mental conversion of signals or information into stored nerve impulses. Also, the psychological transformation of one message or image into another (e.g., oral language into writing, ideas into words).

EL1: English as a first language.

ELL: English language learners, students whose first language is not English and who are in the process of learning English.

ESL: English as a Second Language, a term used in Canada for the instruction of ELL students in use of English language.

Emergent literacy: The skills, knowledge, and attitudes that precede and help to develop conventional reading and writing (e.g., pretend “reading” books, playing with words and sounds, beginning to recognize words that rhyme, scribbling with crayons, pointing out logos or street signs, and naming some letters of the alphabet).

Empirical research: Refers to scientifically based research that applies rigorous, systematic, and objective procedures to obtain valid knowledge that can be generalized. This type of research draws on observation or experiment and has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal or approved by an independent panel that conducts a comparable, objective scientific review.

Error correction:
Immediate corrective feedback during reading instruction.

Explicit instruction:
Involves a high level of teacher/student interaction in which the teacher provides clear, unambiguous, direct, and visible explanations to the students. These explanations are concise, specific, and related to the objective.

Expository text:
Reports factual information (also referred to as informational text) and presents ideas; uses definition, categorization, comparison-contrast, enumeration, sequencing, problem-solution, description, or cause-effect as techniques.

Evidence-based research: This type of research meets evidence standards. It is empirical research conducted by scientific method with an analysis of results; the highest levels of research have random samples, large samples, and control groups. In the field of education, such studies are of replicable educational interventions (programs, products, practices, and policies) that intend to improve student outcome.


Five pillars of reading instruction: See phonological awareness, alphabetic principle, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Fluency: The ability to read text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression. Fluency provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension.

Fluency probe: An assessment for measuring fluency, usually a timed oral reading passage at the student’s instructional reading level.

Formal assessment: Involves the use of standardized tests that follow a prescribed format for administration and scoring. Scores obtained from formal tests are standardized. They are determined based on a comparative sample of children; therefore scores obtained in formal assessments indicate how a child is doing in comparison to a group of peers.

Frustrational reading level: The level difficulty within a text at which a reader reads with less than 90 percent accuracy (i.e., more than one error per 10 words read).


Grapheme: A letter or letter combination that represents a single phoneme (e.g., “s, c, ss, sw, ps, sc” all represent the same phoneme /s/).

Graphic and semantic organizers: Graphic organizers summarize concepts in a text using diagrams, maps, graphs, charts, frames, or clusters. Semantic organizers are graphic organizers using words, with a central concept connected by lines to a variety of related ideas and events.

Guided oral reading: As students read a passage orally, the teacher offers immediate corrective feedback and additional modelling if necessary.

Guided practice: Students practice newly learned skills while the teacher provides prompts and feedback.

Guided reading:
A relatively short, highly intense instructional episode in which the teacher coaches and observes a group of students practicing reading aloud, and intervenes to guide as needed. Students are taught to become increasingly more strategic, self-monitoring, comprehending readers.


High frequency words: A small group of words (300-500) that account for a large percentage of the words in print. These words can be referred to as, “sight words,” since automatic recognition of these words is required for fluent reading (e.g., “the, and, they, said”).

Homograph: Words that are spelled the same but have different meanings and may or may not have the same pronunciation (e.g., “can” as in “metal container” and “can” as in “able to”).

Homonym: This is an umbrella term that encompasses both homographs and homophones.

Homophone: Words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings (e.g., “ate/eight”; “they’re/their/ there”).


Idiom: A phrase or expression in which the meaning cannot be determined based on the literal interpretation of the words (e.g., “it’s raining cats and dogs”).

Immediate corrective feedback: When the teacher immediately attends to a student’s error by providing correction and increasing intensity of direct instruction until student demonstrates understanding.

Immediate intensive intervention: Instruction that may include more time, more opportunities for student practice, more teacher feedback, smaller group size, and different materials. It is implemented as soon as assessment indicates that students are not making adequate progress in reading.

Implicit instruction:
Students discover skills and concepts on their own instead of being taught these skills explicitly. For example, the teacher provides a list of words that begin with the letter “m” (“mud, milk, meal, mattress”) and then asks the students how the words are similar, rather than telling them that the letter “m” is the beginning letter in all the words.

Independent reading level:
The level of difficulty within a text at which a reader can read with 95 percent accuracy (i.e., no more than one error per 20 words read). Independent reading level is a relatively easy text for the reader.

Indirect vocabulary instruction: Acquisition of words learned through independent reading and conversation.

Informal assessment: This type of assessment does not require the use of standardized tests that follow prescribed rules for administration and scoring and that have undergone technical scrutiny for reliability and validity. Informal assessment includes teacher-made tests, end-of-unit tests, and running records.

Informational text: Also referred to as expository text, this term includes non-fiction books that contain facts and information.

Instructional reading level: The level of difficulty within a text at which a reader can read with 90 percent accuracy (i.e., no more than one error per 10 words read). Instructional reading level engages the student in challenging, but manageable text.

Instructional routines:
Include the following sequence of steps: explicit instruction, modelling, guided practice, student practice, application, feedback, and generalization.

Interventions: Implementation of a program or extra assistance with the goal of changing or preventing a problem such as poor reading skills.

Tier 1: Occurs in the mainstream classroom. This tier is considered high-quality instruction (usually ~80 percent of students will need Tier 1 interventions).
Tier 2: When school-wide screening or prog­ress monitoring results indicate a deficit in a spe­cific area, an appropriate instructional intervention (Tier 2 or    more intense) is implemented and progress within that interven­tion is monitored. Applicable for students falling behind on grade level benchmark skills (usually ~15 percent of students will need Tier 2 interventions).
Tier 3: Special education services for students with intensive needs who are not adequately responding to high-quality interventions in Tier 1 and Tier 2. Decisions about students’ specific instructional needs are based in part on a student’s lack of responsiveness to effective instruction (usually ~5 percent of students will need Tier 3 interventions).

Intervention program: Provides content for instruction intended for use in differentiated instruction and/or intensive instruction to meet student learning needs in one or more of the specific areas of reading.

Invented spelling: An attempt to spell a word based on a student’s knowledge of the spelling system and how it works (e.g., kt for “cat”).


K-W-L: Stands for What I Know (accessing prior knowledge), What I Want to Know (setting a purpose for reading), and What I Learned (recalling what has been read). This technique is used most frequently with expository text to promote comprehension.


Letter knowledge: The knowledge that a child possesses about letters, their differences in appearance and their sounds. Familiarity with the letters of the alphabet is important for developing decoding skills.

Letter-sound Correspondence:
The matching of a verbally produced sound to its corresponding letter or group of letters.

Lexical knowledge: Knowledge of a word, which means knowing how it is written and how it is pronounced, understanding its meaning, and knowing how to use the word in phrases and sentences.


Meta-analysis: A form of statistical analysis that combines the results of many highly qualified research studies that have investigated similar research topics. These analyses are performed to validate conclusions using larger sample sizes and greater empirical evidence.

An awareness of one’s own thinking processes and how they work. The process of consciously thinking about one’s learning or reading while actively engaging in learning or reading.

Meta-cognitive strategies: These are strategies that can be taught to students to help them actively think about and have control over their reading and learning. Such strategies include self-assessment and self-regulation.

Metaphor: A comparison between two nouns without using “like” or as” (e.g., “life is a river”).

Modelling: Teacher verbally demonstrates a strategy, skill, or concept that students will be learning (e.g., a comprehension strategy modeling: the teacher says, “I wonder what made James decide to do that…I think I am going to look back at the part of the story where he… to see if I can figure out his reasons”).

Morpheme: The smallest meaningful unit of language. A morpheme can be a word (“book, table”) or a part of a word such as a prefix or suffix. For example, the word “unsuccessful” contains three morphemes: “un,” “success,” and “ful”.

Morphology: The patterns of how words are formed from prefixes, roots, and suffixes (e.g., “mis-spell-ing”), and how words are related to each other.

Motivation: The psychological process of arousing interest in some activity and the regulation and sustainment of a desire to pursue the activity. One of the main tasks of the educator is to create intrinsic motivation in students by presenting situations that are interesting at different stages of development.

Multisyllabic words:
Words with more than one syllable (e.g., computer). A systematic introduction of multisyllabic words should occur throughout a reading program, with the average number of syllables in the words increasing throughout the grades.


Narrative text: A story about fictional or real events, which follows a basic standard format. Narratives include a plot, setting, characters, structure (introduction, complication, resolution), and theme.

Negative reinforcement:
A behaviour modification technique in which a negative stimuli is removed in order to increase a specified behaviour in the future (e.g., A student receives a bad grade on a test. For the next test, he studies and receives a good grade. Removing the negative stimuli of a bad grade will strengthen his studying behaviour in the future). Note: do not confuse with "punishment".


Objectives: Measurable statements detailing the desired accomplishments of a program.

Onset and rime:
In a syllable, the onset is the initial consonant or consonants, and the rime is the vowel and any consonants that follow it (e.g., in the word “sat”, the onset is “s” and the rime is “at”. In the word “flip”, the onset is “fl” and the rime is “ip”).

Oral language: Spoken language. There are five components of oral language: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.

Orthographic knowledge:
The knowledge that sounds within a language are represented by specific letters or symbols.

Orthography: A system for representing the sounds of language by written symbols. This involves correct spelling patterns and rules.

Outcome assessment:
An assessment that measures the outcome of a program. It is typically given at the end of the year and used to evaluate the overall effectiveness of a program for all students.


Partner/peer reading: Students reading aloud with a partner, taking turns to provide word identification help and feedback. Pairing may be determined by reading abilities (e.g., students with stronger reading skills may be paired with those who have weaker reading skills).

Giving human qualities, such as emotions, desires, actions, and speech to inanimate objects or abstract notions (e.g., The moonlight danced on the water).

Persuasive writing: A formal writing style in which the writer argues a position for or against a topic and tries to persuade the reader to agree with that position. The position is presented in a biased topic sentence called a thesis statement.

Phoneme: The smallest unit of sound within our language system. A single phoneme has the ability to change the meanings of a word (e.g., changing the first phoneme in “bit” from /b/ to /s/ makes “sit”). English has about 41-44 phonemes. Words can be composed of a single phoneme (e.g., “a” or “oh”) or multiple phonemes.

Phoneme manipulation: Adding, deleting, and substituting sounds in words-

Phoneme addition: Adding a phoneme to an existing word (e.g., /t/ + “rain” = “train”).

Phoneme blending:
Combining phonemes to form a word. (e.g., /c/ /a/ /t/ = “cat”).

Phoneme categorization:
Grouping words by phonemes (e.g., words beginning with /p/: “pat, pin, pig”).

Phoneme deletion: Removal of a phoneme from a word (e.g., “shout” without the /sh/ = “out”).

Phoneme identification: Finding a common phoneme in a group of words (e.g., in “dog, dig, den”, /d/ is the common phoneme).

Phoneme isolation: Isolating individual sounds in a word (e.g., the first sound in “soup” is /s/).

Phoneme segmentation: Breaking word into its separate sounds, saying each sound (e.g. “trap”: /t/ /r/ /a/ /p/ has four sounds).

Phoneme substitution: Substituting one phoneme for another within a word to make a new word. (e.g., “pin”: change the /n/ to /g/ and you get “pig”).

Phonemic awareness: A subcategory of phonological awareness indicating the awareness of individual phonemes in words.

Phonetics: The study and classification of speech sounds, including their production, transmission, and perception.

Phonics: A form of instruction that teaches students to understand and use the alphabetic principle. Students learn the relationships between phonemes (the sounds in spoken language) and graphemes (the letters that represent those sounds in written language) and use this information to read or decode words.

Analogy-based phonics: Involves teaching students to use parts of words they have already learned in order to read and decode words that are visually similar (e.g., reading “fellow” by analogy to “yellow”). Children may be taught many key words to use for reading new words.

Analytic phonics: Involves teaching students to analyze letter-sound relationships in words they know and to decode unfamiliar words by finding an analogous word in their mental dictionary. Sounds are not pronounced in isolation.

Embedded phonics: Involves teaching students letter-sound relationships during the reading of connected text. The teacher gives explicit instruction on specific letter-sound relationships when it is noticed that a child is struggling to read a particular word. Letter-sound relationships may be initially taught through sight word reading. The learning sequence of letter-sounds is not prescribed, but rather is determined by whatever words are encountered in text.

Onset-rime phonics instruction: Involves teaching students to break single syllable words into separate sounds based on the onset (consonant preceding the vowel) and rime (vowel and following consonants). Students read each part of the word separately and then blend the parts together to say the whole word.

Phonics through spelling: Involves the integration of phonics and spelling by teaching students to segment words into phonemes and then to write letters for each phoneme.

Synthetic phonics: Involves teaching students the sounds of individual letters or letter combinations in isolation before they are introduced to reading. Students learn letter sounds and then “synthesize “ or blend the sounds together to pronounce words.

Systematic and explicit phonics instruction: Involves teaching students direct letter-sound relationships (e.g., the letter “p” makes the sound /p/) in an organized, logical sequence. This type of instruction allows students to apply their knowledge of letter-sound relationships to reading as they learn it.

Phonological awareness: An “umbrella” term that is used to refer to the understanding or insight into different sound structures in language. This term encompasses awareness of individual sounds in words (phonemic awareness) as well as of individual words in sentences, syllables, and onset-rime segments.

Phonology: The study of the sound system used in language and its rules for combining sounds and patterns of stress and intonation.

Positive reinforcement: A behaviour modification technique in which positive stimuli (e.g., smile, praise or approval, extra attention) is given in order to increase specific behaviours.

Pragmatics: The rules or conventions governing the use of oral language within a social or situational context.

Prefix: A morpheme that precedes a root word and contributes to or modifies the meaning of the root word (e.g., “re-” in “reprint”).

Prior knowledge: Refers to the knowledge and experience that readers bring to the text.

Pronunciation guide:
A key or guide consisting of graphic symbols that represent particular speech sounds.


Qualitative research: A subjective form of research that relies on analysis of controlled observations of the researcher. This type of research yields extensive narrative data, which include detailed descriptions of what has been observed.

Quantitative research: An objective form of research that explores situations from which numerical data are obtained and analyzed (e.g., numbers of students; scores on tests; number of vocabulary words retained).


Randomized control trial: Studies in which people are allocated at random (by chance alone) to receive one of several interventions. One of those interventions is the standard of comparison, or control, giving researchers a reference point for the efficacy of the specific intervention being evaluated. The control can be a placebo or no intervention at all. Randomized controlled trials seek to measure and compare the outcomes after the participants receive the interventions.

Rapid automatic naming:
RAN is a measure of cognitive processing, measured by the rate of naming colours, digits, objects, or letters. This measure is a predictor for fluency of reading.

Reading centres:
Special places organized in the classroom for students to work in small groups or pairs, either cooperatively or individually. Students work in centres while the teacher is conducting small group reading instruction. Each centre contains meaningful, purposeful activities that are an extension and reinforcement of what has already been taught by the teacher in reading groups or in a large group. For example, students practice phonics skills at the phonics centre; sort word cards at the vocabulary centre; and read books, listen to taped books, record their reading of a book, and read in pairs at the reading centre.

Reading impairment: Occurs when a child has difficulty mastering one or more aspects of learning to read (e.g., the child lacks phonological awareness). Early identification and effective intervention with high-quality instruction can prevent many reading disabilities.

Reciprocal teaching: In this method, both the student and the teacher are involved in the teaching process. Students learn comprehension skills using strategies: asking questions about the text they are reading, summarizing parts of the text, clarifying words and sentences they don't understand, and predicting what might occur next in the text.

Repeated reading: When a student is required to re-read a text a number of times until he or she is able to read at a predetermined fluency level.

Retelling: When a student is required to recall the content of a text in a coherent, logical way.

Rhyming: Words that have the same ending sounds.

Robust instruction: Instruction that directly explains the meanings of words in an energetic and engaging way and provides thought provoking, playful, and interactive follow-up activities in which students can practice the words.

Root: A morpheme, often of Latin origin, that may or may not be able to stand alone; it is used to form a family of words with related meanings (e.g., “view” is a root word for “preview, review, viewable”).


Scaffolding: Refers to the support that is given to students in order to facilitate learning. This support may occur as immediate, specific feedback that a teacher offers during student practice (e.g., giving encouragement or cues, breaking the problem down into smaller steps, using a graphic organizer, or providing an example). Scaffolding may be embedded in the features of the instructional design (starting with simpler skills and building progressively to more difficult skills). Providing the student temporary instructional support assists them in achieving what they cannot accomplish alone.

Schema: Refers to an organized outline or knowledge structure that interrelates all of one’s knowledge on a specific topic. Prior knowledge and experiences are organized into schemas, and this knowledge influences how the reader comprehends written text.

Schwa: The vowel sound sometimes heard in an unstressed syllable and most often perceived as the sound “uh” (e.g., asleep, banana).

Screening: An informal measurement tool designed to identify those students who are prepared for grade level reading instruction and those who may need extra help in reading.

Sentence Fragment: A grammatically incomplete sentence.

Segmenting: Separating the individual phonemes, or sounds, of a word into discrete units.

Self-monitoring: This is a meta-cognitive process in which students actively think about how they are learning or understanding the material, activities, or reading.

Semantics: This term refers to an individual’s knowledge of word meanings.

Shared reading: Occurs when the teacher reads a text to all students, allowing each student visual access to the text.

Sight words: These are words that are recognized immediately and automatically. These words may be phonetically regular (e.g. “if, this, and”) or irregular (e.g., “would, said, from, have”).

Simile: A comparison of two things using the term “like” or “as” (e.g., as fast as a streak of lightning”);

Spelling patterns: Refers to recognizable patterns in words (e.g., digraphs, vowel pairs, word families, and vowel variant spellings).

Standardized test: Tests designed so that the test items and the administration procedures are the same each time the test is administered. The standardization serves two purposes. It assures that the test and its administration remain consistent, so as to be completed in the manner that was shown to be effective, and it permits the comparison of the performance of one group of test takers with another.

Stop sounds: A stop sound is created by stopping the airflow through the vocal tract for an instant, with the lips or the tongue. (i.e., /p/, / b/, /t/, /d/, /k/, /g/).

Story elements: Includes characters, a problem, solutions, themes, settings, and a plot.

Story grammar: The “elements” of the story, including title, author, setting, main characters, conflict and resolution, events, and conclusion. The elements create a structured format for the creation of cohesive and logical narratives.

Story maps: A strategy used to identify and highlight the plot and important elements in a story. The maps provide a visual representation of the beginning, middle, and end of a story. They help students answer the who, where, when, what, why, and how of a story and list the main events.

Strategic learners:
While reading, these learners actively make predictions, organize information, and interact with the text. They think about what they are reading in terms of what they already know. They monitor their comprehension by employing strategies that facilitate their understanding.

Strategy instruction: Teaching students about different reading strategies. Students are taught how and when to use strategies, how to identify personally effective strategies, and how to make strategic behaviours a part of their learning.

Structural analysis: A procedure for teaching students how to read words by breaking them up into their prefixes, suffixes, or other meaningful word parts.

Syllable: A segment of a word that contains one vowel sound. The vowel may or may not be preceded and/or followed by a consonant (e.g., “cherry” = cher-ry).

Syllabification: The separation of a word into syllables, whether spoken or written.

Syllable types: There are six types of syllables: closed (followed by a consonant, e.g., “cat, dog”), open (ending in a vowel, e.g., “he, si-lo “) vowel-consonant-e (VCE) (vowel is followed by a consonant and a silent e, e.g., “like, mile-stone”), consonant-l-e (vowel is followed by a consonant and an l and an e, e.g., the second syllable in “can-dle” and “jug-gle”), r-controlled (vowel is followed by an r, e.g., “star, cor-ner”), and vowel pairs (where two vowels together make one sound in the syllable, e.g., “count, rain-bow”).

Synonym: Words that have similar meanings (e.g., couch and sofa).

Syntax: The conventions and rules for assembling words into meaningful sentences; syntax varies across languages.

Systematic review: A review of the published literature pertaining to a single research question. Systematic reviews help to synthesize high-quality research results from multiple studies to provide high levels of evidence to answer research questions.


Vocabulary: Those words and their meanings that are stored in our mental dictionaries.


Word family: Group of words that share a rime (a vowel plus the consonants that follow; e.g., “-ame, -ick, -out”).

Word parts: Letters, onsets, rimes, and syllables that, when combined, result in words. The ability to recognize various word parts in multisyllabic words is beneficial in decoding unfamiliar words.

Sources for Glossary

Beck, I. L., McKeown, M. F., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. New York: The Guilford Press.

Beckman, O. (2002). Strategy instruction. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service N. ED474302). Retrieved April 21, 2008, from ERIC database:

Blake, D., & Hanley, V. (1995). The dictionary of educational terms. Aldershot, Hants, UK: Arena.

Collins, K., Downes, L., Griffiths, S., & Shaw, K. (1973). Key words in education. London: Longman.

Harp, B., & Brewer, J. (2005). The informed reading teacher: Research-based practice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Houston, G. (2004). How writing works: Imposing organizational structure within the writing process. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

International Dyslexia Association (2008). Frequently asked questions about dyslexia. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from

Johnson, E., Mellard, D. F., Fuchs, D., & McKnight, M.A. (2006). Responsiveness to interven­tion (RTI): How to do it. Lawrence, KS: National Research Center on Learning Disabilities.

Mertler, C., & Charles, C. (2005). Introduction to educational research. Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

Reading Rockets (2008). Reading glossary. Retrieved April 14, 2008, from

SEDL (2008). Glossary of reading terms. Retrieved April 14, 2008, from

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