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Increase Elementary Reading Vocabulary: Error Word Drill


Error Word Drill (EWD) is a technique used to help developing readers learn vocabulary words. EWD has been effective at increasing the percent of words read correctly.

Some of the benefits of EWD are that it requires little preparation time and few resources. It’s very simple to implement, but can yield significant gains in overall reading vocabulary.

Basically, EWD requires the student to:

  1. Write down the any words a student misreads into an “error word notebook”.
  2. Write the first 20 of the student’s “error words” onto individual 3 x 5 index cards.
  3. Present the index cards to the student one at a time. If the student correctly reads the word on a card within 5 seconds, remove the card from the pile of cards.
  4. If the student mispronounces the word on the card, pronounce the word for the student and then have the student repeat the word. If the student correctly repeats the word, ask the student “What word?” and have the student say the word one more time. Place the misread word cards at the bottom of the deck.
  5. Continue presenting the “error word” cards in the deck until the student is able to read them all correctly.
  6. Once all the cards have been read correctly, reshuffle all 20 cards and repeat the previous steps.
  7. Continue until the student has successfully read the deck without misreading two consecutive cards.

This simple reading intervention has been around for decades and has been demonstrated effective in multiple languages. It is simple, but it does work.


-Adapted from:

 Daly, E. J. III., Chafouleas, S., & Skinner, C. H. (2004). Interventions for reading problems: Designing and evaluating effective strategies. New York: The Guilford Press.

Jenkins, J., & Larson, D. (1979). Evaluation of error-correction procedures for oral reading. Journal of Special Education, 13, 145-156.