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Decodable Texts

decode (verb)

to recognise and interpret to discover the meaning

A purpose of the K-2 English syllabus is to provide a detailed and explicit curriculum for the teaching of reading. The syllabus is structured to assist teachers establish and diagnose where individual children are in their reading development and provide evidence-based teaching advice.

The K-2 English Syllabus specifies phonics as an essential foundation for early literacy that propels students from spoken to written language. Phonics instruction supports reading development by allowing students to understand the relationship between the sounds of the spoken language (phonemes), and the letters and syllables of the written language (graphemes).

The K-2 English syllabus prescribes the use of decodable texts as a strategy to support effective phonics instruction. Decodable texts contain controlled vocabulary with simplified spelling patterns so that beginning readers can use their developing phonics skills to decipher the words. By using decoding strategies rather than guessing words, students can independently read decodable texts.

Decodable readers are typically levelled texts that increase in complexity. Each level introduces new graphemes (letters) and phonemes (sounds) that have been learned during phonics instruction. Decodable readers also present complex grapheme–phoneme correspondences (GPC) in a systematic and gradual way towards multisyllable words and more complex sentences.

Decodable readers are purposefully designed for beginning readers to practise the GPC’s that have been learned in class. Students should have daily opportunities to read these decodable texts.

Alongside the use of decodable texts, the K-2 syllabus also prescribes that teachers read aloud to students wherever possible, each day. This enables students to engage with books that they cannot read independently. Teachers are directed to read aloud from a wide range of literature that is increasingly more complex in structure, to build vocabulary and grammar knowledge.

Developing phonic knowledge in the early years is an essential foundational skill for reading fluency and reading comprehension. Evidence-based research shows that systematic explicit phonics instruction and the use of decodable texts support improved reading outcomes for all students.

As part of the K-2 English Syllabus, the teaching of phonics and the use of decodable texts give teachers great agency to plan appropriate learning experiences for students, to carefully track language development, and to identify and respond to specific learning needs. The new syllabus provides an excellent foundation for young students to understand the technical aspects of using letters to read words, to become proficient decoders of text, and to be effective and competent users of the English language.