A Word Identification Strategy

From time to time while reading, you will see a word you cannot identify. It may be a word you think you know but cannot identify, or it may be a word that is new to you. When this happens, you should use a word identification strategy to identify and say the word.

Here are the steps of a word identification strategy you can use. Each step tells one thing you should do when you come to a word you cannot identify. Continue to follow the steps until you have identified the word.

  1. LOOK AGAIN at the word. As you look at the word again, say each letter in the word. This will get you to look more carefully at the word. Often, when you look at a word a second or third time, you will identify the word as a word you know.
  2. READ THE SENTENCE containing the word to see if you can determine what the word means by how it is used in the sentence. Sometimes, knowing the meaning of a word will help you identify the word.
  3. LOOK FOR A PREFIX at the beginning of the word. A prefix is a word part that is attached to the beginning of a word. Here are some examples of words with the prefix underlined: prepaid, unheard, rerun.
  4. LOOK FOR A SUFFIX at the end of the word. A suffix is a word part that is attached to the end of a word. Here are some examples of words with the suffix underlined: lovely, tallest, spelling.
  5. LOOK FOR THE STEM. The stem is what remains after the removal of a prefix and/or suffix. If there is no prefix or suffix, then the whole word is the stem. Here are some examples of words with the stem underlined: prepaid, lovely, misspelling).
  6. BLEND AND SAY THE WORD. Blend together the prefix if there is one, the stem, and the suffix if there is one to say the entire word. For example: un+help+ful = unhelpful.
  7. USE A DICTIONARY to help identify the word. Look in the dictionary for the word and its phonetic respelling. The phonetic respelling shows the most common pronunciation of the word. Use the phonetic respelling to help you pronounce the word. Also, look at the definitions provided for the word. Select the definition that best fits the meaning of the word as used in the sentence. Knowing the pronunciation of the word and its meaning should allow you to identify the word.
  8. ASK SOMEONE for help identifying the word. If you have reached this step and still cannot identify the word, ask your teacher, parent, or another student to help you identify and say the word.

Use this word identification strategy whenever needed in your reading. You cannot understand what you read unless you can identify most or all of the words.