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Using Eyewords to Support English Language Learners

Using Eyewords to Support English Language Learners

What are Eyewords™?

Eyewords™ is a multimodal - visual, auditory and kinesthetic approach to teaching high frequency words. High frequency words make up almost half of all the material we read, many of which are difficult to contextualize and to decode phonetically. The ability to automatically retrieve or “sight read” these words allow learners to read more fluently and with greater comprehension, hence, the importance of these words becoming sight words.

Eyewords™ Teaching Cards are available in sets of 50 words. They are a powerful, fun, and easy-to-implement teaching tool that every educator needs! The front of the card embeds visual-contextual images while the back provides related auditory phrases and corresponding kinesthetic actions. This trifecta creates context for abstract high frequency words—which have little meaning on their own but contribute a great deal to the meaning of a phrase.


The engagement of multiple modalities makes words meaningful for learners while also increasing word retention. In addition, when learning is presented in a way that engages multiple senses, it becomes more exciting and those learning it become more motivated to actively participate. Eyewords™ resources are designed to build confidence and allow learners to make text comprehendible.

Eyewords™ is backed by a published study by Stanford University and supported by the latest research in cognitive neuroscience and linguistics which has validated that for sight word acquisition, the method of combining an embedded picture, contextual phrase, and related kinesthetic action is more effective than plain text with phonics instruction alone.

Implementing Eyewords™ as a Beneficial Approach for English Language Learners

English Language Learners (ELLs) often struggle to learn to read in English. In conjunction with learning a new language, most ELL's have to learn new academic skills and new content. The reader is often preoccupied with decoding and translating words, thus their comprehension can be very limited. Their struggle to read impacts their academic achievement and these students are often faced with learning fatigue, poor motivation and lack of self-confidence.

Classroom teachers are all too familiar with the fact that typical school curriculum is designed for native English speakers. Consequently, most ELLs need strategies, differentiation, and multimodal instruction to learn content. It becomes the role of the teacher to create different ways of learning for these students. Eyewords™ is a great approach for teaching ELLs the high frequency words.

Additionally, systematic instruction in how letters represent sounds—phonics—is the most effective way to teach kids how to read. This can be done through teaching phonics patterns as seen in this Scope & Sequence chart which is available as a free download by simply making an account in


Eyewords™ teaching cards can be implemented with any curriculum and encouraged during whole group and small group instruction. Teaching cards are available in hard good form or a downloadable printable version that are ready to be used.

Meaningful Independent Practice Activities

ELL students also need opportunities to practice sight words independently. When you purchase Eyewords™ teaching cards sets, they include ideas for play-based games and activities using the cards. Each game or activity is detailed and a short description about implementation is provided.

Other easy ways to practice are to have students build the word with any type of letter manipulatives or play dough. There are also purposeful printable activities offered by Eyewords™ like digital worksheets, bingo, and dictionaries.

As a former ESL teacher, Eyewords™ Teaching Cards were the best and most effective teaching tool to help my students not only learn sight words, but develop their oral language skills.