Remember Words Overview

First, visual sequential memory is vital to word recognition. For example, recognition of the word “dog” depends on the memory of all of the letters in the correct sequence. If either the total number of letters or their sequence was distorted, the word “dog” might be recalled as “do”, or “og”, or “good.” Second, the comprehension of phrases is dependent on visual sequential memory. When a phrase such as “light green butterflies” appears in writing, the reader must recall the correct order of the words to prevent confusion with other possible arrangements of the words such as “green butterflies light” which may convey an entirely different meaning. Thus, it is apparent that visual sequential memory refers to the retention of the order of a series of visually presented stimuli, and it is probable that this ability is relevant to reading.

What does it mean to remember words?

Remembering words doesn’t refer to the meaning, but rather recognizing the word well enough to read it without much effort.

Common activities hat develop the ability to remember words include focusing on the patterns within words and how to read words that can’t be sounded out. The study of morphology – which looks at patterns, meaning, and etymology is another way to support visual memory and attention. For instance, “sign” doesn’t have a silent “g” when you consider that it comes from the word “signature”. Studying Greek and Latin roots is a well-known morphology activity.

Unlike phonemes or syllables, morphemes possess syntactic and semantic information. Such value-added information has been shown to aid in vocabulary acquisition.

Why does it matter if you can remember words?

Imagine reading a passage and sounding out every word you came across. It would be tedious, take forever, and it would be hard to understand what you read. Rememering words allows students to read more quickly and start to build fluency.

Remembering words is an important step in learning how to read but should not be rushed. For most students, it is more efficient for them to learn how to sound words out first and then focus on memorizing words.

Assessment of the phonological and visual attention span abilities of dyslexic children is a very important issue in clinical practice. This step is indeed crucial to identify which remediation program is more appropriate to improve the child’s reading performance.

How can I tell if remembering words is an issue?

It is common for early readers to have a hard time remembering a word when they first sound it out. After a few times sounding the word out, students will typically remember that word and start to read more quickly. If a student has a hard time recognizing patterns in words or has trouble remembering a word after sounding it out several times, they may require more intensive support to strengthen their visual working memory so they can more easily discover patterns and remember them. Issues with visual attention can also make it challenging. Students who continue to sound out “b-a-t, c-a-t, m-a-t” after several exposures to the pattern are likely struggling with this skill.


How does remembering words impact learning disabilities?

For a student who is struggling to sound out words, but has a fantastic memory, it is best to continue working on phonemic awareness and phonics. Students with an exceptionally strong visual memory can appear to be reading in the early years, and then begin to struggle in fourth or fifth grade when it becomes increasingly difficult to memorize words. Autistic students and people with down syndrome are a common exception and will likely benefit from memorizing whole words before phonemic awareness and phonics.