i‑Learner Education Centre

Steps to Success » Reading Skills

Correcting Common Reading Mistakes

In my Love to Read and Phonics classes, students often make the same mistakes repeatedly when reading aloud. Children in Hong Kong can be under a lot of pressure to read from an early age, and teachers and parents can be tempted to let small mistakes slip by in order to encourage faster reading. However, I make sure to always correct the repeated mistakes I hear (in a kind and constructive way), as this is vital for long term language success.

When small mistakes are not corrected early on, children make the same errors over and over again, and these become hard habits to break. To support your child with their reading, encourage them to read aloud – this gives you lots of opportunities to listen out for any reading mistakes they make.

Here are some common reading and pronunciation mistakes to watch out for and solutions to help correct them:

Reading Mistakes

Ignoring the ‘s’:Perhaps the most frequent mistake, the ‘s’ at the end of a word is ignored when reading, e.g. Talks > Talk

Whole word errors: Words are misread because they look very similar to another word the child knows, e.g. Simple > Smile Agree > Argue With > Will

Guessing words: Children are looking at the first few letters and are guessing the rest of the word, e.g. Surprise > Suppose

Tracking errors: Reading the letters but not in their correct left-to-right order, e.g. No > On Was > Saw Of > For

Reading too quickly: Words are skipped or misread as the child is not paying attention to all of the letters and words, e.g. Son > Soon Began > Begin Said > Say

Solution: Don’t correct your child straight away. Double tap on the misread or skipped word with your finger as a signal for your child to check and try again. If they struggle to identify or correct the mistake, move your finger from left to right, encouraging them to read letter by letter. If your child is making mistakes due to reading too quickly, keep your finger on the page, and track each word slowly to set the pace.

Pronunciation Mistakes

Mispronouncing ‘ed’: It’s common to struggle to pronounce ‘ed’ correctly, as it sounds different in different words, e.g. ‘talked’ and ‘decided’.

Slow reading: Pausing and slowing down between words and mid-word creates unnatural word-sounds that are hard to understand. This can happen when a child is unfamiliar with the words or when they aren’t using phonics to help blend letters together.

Confusing letters: Confusion surrounding letters that look similar to another such as ‘b’ and ‘d’ and ‘p’ and ‘q’ can lead to frequent reading errors, e.g. bad > dad

Solution: For these mistakes, practise phonics and blending, focus on vowel sounds and digraphs (the sounds of different combinations of letters together like ‘sh’ and ‘ch’).

There are also rules for several tricky sounds. For example, for the different sounds that ‘ed’ makes at the ends of words:
• If the letter before it is ‘t’ or ‘d’, ‘ed’ it is pronounced ‘-id’. Decided = Decide-id
• If the letter before it is either ‘f’, ‘k’, ‘p’, ‘s’, ‘ch’ or ‘sh’ then ‘ed’ is pronounced with a ‘-t’ sound. Talked = Talk-t
• For most other letters, the ‘ed’ after them sounds like ‘d’. Dreamed = Dream-d

Learn common sight words and exceptions like ‘the’, ‘was’ and ‘home’. These will help children read quickly and accurately.

Play with letter cards to practise recognising both capital and small versions of the letters focusing on letters that are similar, like ‘b’ and ‘d’.

If your child struggles with the same word repeatedly, point back to a previous page where they read it correctly.

With more guided reading practice, your child will slowly overcome these small errors and become more confident readers. To improve your child’s reading, consider using graded readers like i-Learner’s own Bugbug’s Library series, which includes phonics and vocabulary for specific levels.