Decoding in reading [SIRP/PrimTEd Teaching Reading study guide 3]

This study guide is about decoding – about developing the ability to transform written text into spoken words in order to gain access to the meaning of a text. Unless a child is able to convert the written text into spoken language, she or he cannot decode the message behind the words. Children are not born with an innate ability to read and write, they have to be taught to do that. To decode a text means applying a knowledge of letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns, to correctly sound-out and pronounce written words. In other words it is deciphering the alphabetic code into language. To encode is the reverse process of converting spoken words into written text. This guide provides an introduction to the key elements of decoding in reading, namely phonological awareness, alphabetic knowledge, phonics, morphological awareness and oral reading fluency. Note that this study guide has focused on decoding in Sesotho and isiZulu, though it will be useful for all teachers of literacy in South Africa's official languages. The study guide is an adaptation of Sesotho and isiZulu Reading Project (SIRP) material