Monday, September 19, 2011

TESOL 2012 Presentation: Engaging Activities to Teach Sight Words for Improved Reading Fluency

I just found out my proposal "Engaging Activities to Teach Sight Words for Improved Reading Fluency" was accepted at the TESOL 2012 conference in Philadelphia next March. The acceptance rate this year was 24%, so I'm honored to have this opportunity. I submitted this presentation as a poster session format this year to provide some variety in my presentation repertoire. I will be sharing ideas for teaching sight words, specifically how to build on phonic clues, promote rapid recognition, and help students commit these sight words to long-term memory. I have addressed this topic before in a blog post entitled "Ideas for Teaching Sight Words for ELLs/ESL Students." (See a photo of my poster here.)

Here is a summary of my presentation:

One effective approach to teaching reading to low-level readers is to teach sight words. Sight words are words that occur so often in a text that readers should be able to read them by sight without having to decode them. Sight words also consist of non-decodable words that must be memorized by sight. Knowing these high-frequency words and being able to recognize non-decodable words by sight are extremely important skills for developing reading fluency.

Research supports the impetus for the long-standing sight words approach. The National Institute for Literacy suggests that: 1) learning sight words is useful; 2) sight words must be rapidly, automatically recognized; and 3) some words have to be learned by sight initially because of real and immediate needs. The National Institute for Literacy also recognizes that “the concern in teaching words by sight is that adults who have struggled with reading have often relied too much on their sight memories, and you don't want to reinforce what may have become a bad habit of ‘guessing’ based on the appearance of a word. Instead you want to help them build more efficient decoding strategies, using phonic and other clues” (NIFL, 2008).

So how do teachers teach sight words effectively to build on phonic clues, promote rapid recognition, and help students commit these sight words to long-term memory? This poster session will present several practical and engaging ideas for how to teach sight words. A description of each activity, as well as a visual sample demonstrating each activity, will be displayed. The presenter will present three objectives for teachers to consider when using these sight words activities so teachers can customize sight word instruction to meet their students’ needs. Ideas for teaching sight words to students with learning disabilities will also be provided.


  1. Congrats, Heidi! That's a great accomplishment!

  2. Thank you, Chloe! I'm looking forward to it. :)

  3. I love this blog. Thanks for taking the time to do it.

    Also, I'm so glad to hear that you will be presenting in Philly next March at the TESOL conference. I will definitely attend and am looking forward to your presentation.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Anney. I'm really glad to hear that you find this blog useful. See you in Philadelphia! :)

  5. Another informational, enjoyable post to read.......thanks for putting it together.

  6. I myself plan to follow a tesol course, but still wonder what kind of tesol course I should choose. my friends suggested me to take Tesol course in Bali to get the pleasure and inconvenience while learning, coz Bali is full of interesting places to visit. They said that I should visit to get a high quality tesol course.