Decoding is the process of translating print into speed by rapidly matching a letter or a combination of letters to their sounds, and recognizing the patterns that make syllables and words.
An area in our brain deals with language processing and does this process automatically for us, however about 30% of our students do not access this part of their brain causing the decoding process to be much harder. Therefore, decoding strategies must be taught very explicitly and systematically. Starting with the simplest sound/letter concept and building to the more complex is the best way to go about teaching this concept.
Decoding is crucial because it is the foundation on which all other reading instruction builds. If students are unable to decode words, their reading will lack fluency, they will have a limited vocabulary, and their reading comprehension will suffer.
Explicit, systematic and multi-sensory phonics instruction produces effective decoding skills. Phonics instruction is important whether it’s taught implicitly or explicitly. Implicit phonics begins with a whole word and then looks more at the beginning sounds, ending sounds and context clues. Explicit phonic does the opposite, by building from a single letter to a word. Phonics must be taught the correct way for it to work. So many people look down on it because it is not taught correctly causing students to not gain anything from phonics instruction.