What exactly is vocabulary? The simplest definition would be “word knowledge.” Vocabulary is the understanding of the meaning and the ability to decode a word. Consequently, what does the word “automaticity” mean? Automaticity is the ability to do things without consciously thinking about them. Our goal as teacher/learners of the written word is to combine the two concepts into a high level of word learning competency.
You see, according to Dr. Rasinski each of us has a certain level of cognitive energy. If we are using most of this energy to sound out and decode words in context, then less of this energy is left for comprehension. The goal of reading is fluency with comprehension.
Fundamental to this ability to read fluently and comprehend fully is the simple answer, practice. This practice can take several forms. First wide reading, which is reading one text and then moving on to others. The second, repeated reading, simply involves the student reading the text many times to achieve fluency. Once the reader achieves, accuracy, automaticity, and fluency they move on to repeat reading with another text. Finally, there is the form of practice many refer to as intentional word study. In this type of practice students are brought to vocabulary, phonics, and spelling practice. The tools for this practice can be easily found in online forms such as Vocabulary and Spelling City. Practice in these areas can include word families, sight words, prefixes, suffixes, and root words. Practicing vocabulary in a variety of ways from games to traditional vocabulary and spelling lists can be highly beneficial to giving the reader the automaticity we seek.
In summary, the goal of teaching reading should go beyond a fundamental knowledge of word recognition and understanding to a fully blossomed fluent automaticity and full comprehension of what is being read.