Edward William Dolch derived a list of most frequently used words in the 1930s. The Dolch list includes conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives and verbs; it includes 220 words. He referred to these words as “tool” or “service” words because they are used in all writing regardless of subject matter.
I teach my students phonics and get them to memorise the Dolch words and they are able to read simple sentences from day 1. You may refer to my first lesson here.
I get my students to learn the Dolch words by rote memory.
Rote memory has been used in primary and secondary education for over a century, and it is still the primary way that many subjects are taught in schools around the world.
Rote memory is a technique for learning in which one repeats facts or figures over and over again to instill them in their memory banks. Some examples of rote learning include repeating the multiplication tables, repeating state capitals, or spelling tricky words.
Rote memory works primarily with short-term memory. When you repeat information again and again to memorize it, you are committing it into your short-term memory.
I used to be able to quote many Bible verses for many years but I have forgotten almost all due to disuse. However, I still know my multiplication tables as I have continuously used it during my work in the accounting field.
The only way to keep information in your long-term memory that has been learned by rote is to use the information consistently. The more you access and retrieve the information from your memory, the more likely it will be that you will remember it long term and it will become permanently embedded in your memory.
As for the Dolch words, having memorized them it is not forgotten as the words are read again and again as these words are in any book a child reads. There is no book without the words the, and, be, to, an, it, at, on etc.
As such all Dolch words memorized by rote become sight words as a child reads grade-level books. As I teach new family words using phonics many of the Dolch words that have been memorised by rote are then read using phonics.
Stop listening to phonics proponents who insist that Dolch words should not be taught.
You may want to read a testimonial from a mother of one of my students who came to me in 2018.