Children learning to read are taught nonsense words (also called alien words). This strategy is to teach decoding skills and to ensure they are not just guessing words.

Seems reasonable!

As the English language is so rich are we not missing an opportunity here to increase our children’s vocabulary by teaching them actual words rather than nonsense words?

Teaching vocabulary is a very important element of any student’s educational journey so let’s teach real words to decode and forget all the nonsense.

Nonsense words have their place. I remember learning ‘Jabberwocky’ in school, which is full of fabulous nonsense words. These nonsense words are given meaning through cues in the text. The poem is for students who have already learned to decode words and have a good knowledge of reading and context. Nonsense words cease to be nonsense when meaning is ascribed to them. When they fire the imagination and link to real words.

In conclusion, children will become better prepared for study, work and life if they are taught to decode real, unusual words they have not encountered before rather than nonsense words with no other purpose than to make sounds. More importantly, they will increase their vocabulary which can only be beneficial.

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