Articles on: Literacy

How do I incorporate irregular high frequency words into my PLD SSP lessons?

PLD's Position on High Frequency Words

PLD is an evidence-based structured synthetic phonics (SSP) program that integrates the teaching of high frequency words (HFW’s) within the phonic sequence.

You can read more about PLD's approach to HFW HERE

Following an extensive literature review, PLD upgraded our approach to teaching high-frequency words (HFW) by amalgamating it with our phonic progression. Our unique approach allows children to learn more high-frequency words with less effort by teaching the right words at the right time and in the right way.

The overview outlines the Foundation to Year 2 teaching sequence for PLD’s Structured Synthetic Phonics (SSP) and High Frequency Words (HFW’s). This chart can be downloaded HERE

What teachers often find surprising is that the vast majority of the HFW’s are regular and can be easily taught within the SSP sequence. The majority of the words occur within PLD’s Stages 1, 2 and 3. To assist, the HFW’s have been identified within PLD programs through the application of (HF) beside phonic-based words. For example:

HFW incorporated into lists
What are High Frequency Words?

High frequency words, are a set of common words which are phonetically regular and irregular that require no effort to recall (orthographic lexicon or sight vocabulary). In the past, they have been referred to as “sight words”.

The orthographic mapping theory of reading development explains that the words we can recognise automatically are anchored in our long-term memory by connections between the pronunciation (phonological knowledge), our ability to identify phonemes within these words (phonemic awareness) and the letter sequence of words spelling (letter-sound correspondence). Therefore the most efficient way to teach these high frequency words (or any word) is to teach students to map letters to the sounds they hear in the word.

High frequency words are the most commonly used words in our language; they are important words as they are needed to make up even the simplest of sentences. High frequency word lists are composed of words that can be decoded (phonics) and a few that that have been termed as phonetically irregular because they contain more complex spellings which are not phonically decodable. For that reason, it is important that we help students learn the ‘tricky’ or complex parts of the words.

While the end goal is that most words become automatic and firmly embedded in a child’s orthographic lexicon, how this ability is developed and how HFW are instructed are often a cause of confusion.

What about Irregular HFW Words?

In short, the explicit teaching of irregular HFW’s is at the beginning of the 30 minute phonics instruction block.

When to teach HFW

Updated on: 07/03/2023

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