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Sound-out (phonics) strategies are strategies for inferring the pronunciation of a word from its spelling. Efficient sound-out skills enable readers to read text fluently, even when they have not encountered many of the words in the text previously (at least in print).

Sound-out strategies, or phonics, require prior memorization of key sound/spelling correspondences and application of strategies for combining this information. This may happen at multiple levels, involving word attack strategies in which monosyllabic words are broken into their component graphemes, and polysyllabic words are pronounced one syllable at a time. The hypothesized development of these skills is presented in Development Table 39.

Sound-out strategies presuppose mastery of Reading Foundational Standard 2 from the Common Core State Standards. They are also part of the set of skills that children must learn in order to satisfy Reading Foundational Standard 3 from the Common Core State Standards.

Literature Note - Sound-Out

Development Table 39. Hypothesized Development of Sound-Out Skills

Can read one-syllable words phonetically by sounding out individual letters. Can correctly read words with multiple consonants blends.
Recognizes rhymes; understands and applies the principle that rhyming words are often spelled the same way.
Can segment one-syllable words into their component phonemes.
Can spell untaught one-syllable words phonetically, drawing on regular sound/spelling correspondences.
Determines the number of syllables in an unknown word by counting the vowels. Can read two- or three-syllable words phonetically by sounding them out one syllable at a time.
Understands the concept of a syllable and counts the syllables in a word. Can break syllables down into their component phonemes. Can identify whether a consonant ends one syllable or begins another. Recognizes long and short vowels.
Can spell untaught multiple-syllable words phonetically using the sound/spelling correspondences for base (Anglo-Saxon) vocabulary.
Can use spelling conventions (contextual spelling patterns) to determine the correct pronunciation for ambiguous graphemes in context.
Understands and applies the idea that particular spelling patterns appear only in specific places in a word.
Can use spelling conventions (contextual spelling patterns) to determine the most likely correct spelling of a word.
(latinate words)
Reads polysyllabic words phonetically by breaking them into syllables, making reasonable assumptions about stress, and pronouncing long and short vowels in accord with the regularities for Latinate vocabulary.
Understands and applies the concepts of stress and syllabification.
Can spell untaught words phonetically by using appropriate but rarer spelling patterns normally only used in Latinate vocabulary.
(borrowed words)
Reads borrowed words phonetically by guessing that they derive from common source languages such as French, German, and Spanish, using sound/spelling correspondences appropriate to the source language.
Understands and applies the concept that different languages have different spelling conventions.
Can provide phonetic spellings for untaught words borrowed from common source languages such as French, German, and Spanish, using spelling conventions appropriate to the source language.

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