How NOT to Teach Reading: Get Your Mouth Ready to Say the Word

I Guess Not!

Part Nine of a 12-part video series showing the flaws of common word reading strategies taught in schools– Moral: Do not teach struggling readers to guess!

Get Your Mouth Ready to Say the Word – Lips the Fish

Prompting a child to, “get their lips ready” when encountering an unknown word is another guessing strategy.  It assumes that the child knows the first letter sound and can say it accurately so that, after whispering the sound, the child will be able to figure out the rest of the word. Research has shown that this is rarely the case.

Eye gaze reading research proves that skilled readers read every letter sound in words, not just the first one.  In Structured Literacy, the only words that the reader is asked to read and practice are those with letter sounds they have seen explicitly taught.  So, readers have confidence that they can say every sound in every word, not just the first one.


Watch the video below for more information on this technique and the explanation as to why this strategy does not work, as well as the correct alternative to this method: structured literacy.

If you would like to learn more about our services and how we utilize the structured literacy approach, you can do so by clicking here.

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Jennifer Salisbury

In 2004, Jennifer joined Teach for America as a special educator where she taught kindergarten through fifth grade. Her passion for reading instruction led her to be trained in a program based on the Orton-Gillingham method. After achieving significant results with her students, she began conducting trainings to help strengthen other teachers’ reading instruction. “My motivation as a teacher is to share my love of learning, and my gift has been working with struggling readers. There is no better feeling than to help someone become a strong reader and independent learner.” Jennifer earned a B.A. in Global studies University of California Santa Barbara and M.S. in Special Education from Lehman College.