Teaching Dolch Sight Words:

In the early 1900s, Edward W. Dolch surveyed hundreds of childrens books and came up with a list of 220 "service words" (pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and verbs) and 95 nouns which occurred over and over again in children's books. These words are said to account for 50-75% of all words in children's books. Many of these words are often difficult to portray with pictures or hard to sound out through phonics methods. Others simply occur so often it's worth the time to memorize them as is or 'by sight' when the reader comes across them.

The Dolch Sight Word lists are broken up by level and frequency for that level of reader. They are not organized by difficulty. This is rather important when we begin to teach these words to ESL/EFL students. I teach the word lists but I break them up into 3 sections and order them by words students are likely to know at beginner levels of English. (while native speakers are learning to recognize words they already know, ESL/EFL students shouldn't be asked to visually recognize words they have never learned - this is simply my opinion.)

Here is the list as Dolch presented it for native English speakers:

Pre-primer: a, and, away, big, blue, can, come, down, find, for, funny, go, help, here, I, in, is, it, jump, little, look, make, me, my, not, one, play, red, run, said, see, the, three, to, two, up, we, where, yellow, you

Primer: all, am, are, at, ate, be, black, brown, but, came, did, do, eat, four, get, good, have, he, into, like, must, new, no, now, on, our, out, please, pretty, ran, ride, saw, say, she, so, soon, that, there, they, this, too, under, want, was, well, went, what, white, who, will, with, yes

1st Grade: after, again, an, any, as, ask, by, could, every, fly, from, give, giving, had, has, her, him, his, how, just, know, let, live, may, of, old, once, open, over, put, round, some, stop, take, thank, them, then, think, walk, were, when

2nd Grade: always, around, because, been, before, best, both, buy, call, cold, does, don't, fast, first, five, found, gave, goes, green, its, made, many, off, or, pull, read, right, sing, sit, sleep, tell, their, these, those, upon, us, use, very, wash, which, why, wish, work, would, write, your

3rd Grade: about, better, bring, carry, clean, cut, done, draw, drink, eight, fall, far, full, got, grow, hold, hot, hurt, if, keep, kind, laugh, light, long, much, myself, never, only, own, pick, seven, shall, show, six, small, start, ten, today, together, try, warm

Nouns: apple, baby, back, ball, bear, bed, bell, bird, birthday, boat, box, boy, bread, brother, cake, car, cat, chair, chicken, children, Christmas, coat, corn, cow, day, dog, doll, door, duck, egg, eye, farm, farmer, father, feet, fire, fish, floor, flower, game, garden, girl, good-bye, grass, ground, hand, head, hill, home, horse, house, kitty, leg, letter, man, men, milk, money, morning, mother, name, nest, night, paper, party, picture, pig, rabbit, rain, ring, robin, Santa Claus, school, seed, sheep, shoe, sister, snow, song, squirrel, stick, street, sun, table, thing, time, top, toy, tree, watch, water, way, wind, window, wood

Teaching Dolch Sight words to non-native English speakers: Here is what I did with the list: each set is composed of 60 words

Sight Words One Handout: hello, hi, my, your, I, you, a ,an, have, do, the, they, are, how, boy, girl, take, put, gray, purple, orange, brown, blue, white, this, that, come, away, go, out, what, where, these, those, here, there, open, close, want, some, please, no, color, draw, friend, play, he, she, write, give, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten Sight Words One Flash Cards

Sight Words Two Handout: great, good, never, ever, new, old, say, said, call, tall, all, talk, walk, know, show, every, again, right, thing, little, for, from, was, were, who, why, when, which, we, me, because, don't, first, second, live, now, day, today, by, bye, of, to, does, done, fun, funny, find, under, see, together, light, far, much, think, over, better Sight Words Two Flash Cards

Sight Words Three Handout: under, down, very, really, about, hold, cold, pull, eye, after, snow, saw, shoe, pretty, full, well, count, both, has, grow, other, their, found, laugh, off, once, myself, buy, may, twice, yourself, before, been, only, morning, sister, be, kind, night, brother, chair, father, ground, round, flower, mother, street, home, around, through, picture, with, raise, them, then, use, hurt, birthday, tell Sight Words Three Flash Cards

I eliminated some of the words students are likely to be able to read through phonics (at, if, its, make, made, etc.) Most of my students are upper elementary by the time I start these lists and I use them as a way to increase reading competence and speed. As the frequency of these words are high not only in children's books, there is a definite advantage associated with immediate visual recognition of these words.

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