Graphosyllabic Analysis

Instructional Practice
Phonics & Decoding

A set of word cards per student (four sets of 25 multisyllabic words on index cards)

Sheets of paper listing the words in each set, one sheet each per student (optional)

Mini whiteboards, dry erase markers, eraser (one set per student)

Target Student

All students can benefit from this instructional practice, particularly those in need of a multisyllabic word decoding strategy.


Graphosyllabic analysis is a decoding strategy that uses five steps for syllable analysis. This strategy uses one syllabication rule—the need to create a separate syllable for each vowel sound.


The use of graphosyllabic analysis is a type of instructional practice. An instruction practice is a teaching method that guides interactions in the classroom and supports student learning. Instructional practices involve an educator using particular method, practice, or protocol during instruction.

How To

1. Tell students you will teach them a strategy for reading unfamiliar multisyllabic words by dividing them into syllables 


2. Demonstrate the five-step syllable analysis as follows:

STEP 1: Read the word out loud.

Display a sample multisyllabic word (i.e., finish) and pronounce it for the student.


STEP 2: Explain the word’s meaning.

Ask the students to give the word’s meaning(s) and provide corrective feedback if appropriate.  “That’s right, finish means to complete a task.”


STEP 3: Orally divide the word into syllables.

Pronounce each syllable aloud while raising one finger at a time to count the syllables, “There are two syllables in the word finish.  I’ll read it again—fin-ish.”

Explain the one-vowel, one-syllable rule.  “Every syllable contains a vowel.  Vowels are usually spelled with the letters a, e, i, o, u, y or certain combinations of these letters such as ee, ea, or ai.  The word finish has one vowel in each syllable—/i/ in fin and /i/ in ish.”

Explain how to distinguish incorrect from correct segmentations.  “Each letter can go in only one syllable.  For example, I can’t divide the word finish as fin-nish.  I have to put the letter n in only one syllable—fin-ish.”

Explain that the sounds in the syllables must match sounds in the whole word.  “The sounds in the syllables should be as close as possible to the sounds in the whole word.  We don’t say fine-ish because we don’t hear fine and ish in finish.  We don’t say fin-ush because we don’t hear fine and ush in finish.  We say fin-ish because we hear fin and ish in finish. 


STEP 4: Match the pronounced form of each syllable to its spelling.

Pronounce each syllable aloud while you use your thumbs or a pointer to expose each syllable in turn while covering the other letters “Fin—ish.”


STEP 5: Blend the syllables to say the whole word.

Moving your finger or pointer from left to right, slowly blend the syllables to pronounce the whole word.  “Finally, I put the syllables together and read the whole word—finish.”

Present another slightly more complex example (e.g., violinist) and guide students through each step.  Have students write the sample word on their whiteboards and practice pronouncing and exposing one syllable at a time while you circulate to provide help as needed.  For Step 4, accept different ways of dividing words into syllables as long as each syllable contains only one vowel sound, the letters students expose match the sounds they pronounce, each letter is included in only one syllable, and the combination of letters forms a legal pronunciation (e.g., fi-nish but not fini-sh)


To evaluate this intervention, instructors can compare reading instructional levels before and after implementation or compare R-CBM fluency and comprehension scores for the target students before and after implementation.



Adapted from Rathvon, N. (2008). Effective school interventions: Evidence-based strategies for improving student outcomes. New York: Guilford Press.


Bhattacharya, A., & Ehri, L. C. (2004). Graphosyllabic analysis helps adolescent struggling readers read and spell words. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37, 331-348.

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