Technically speaking, the term “sight word” refers to any word an individual can read as a whole word, without sounding it out. High frequency words are words that commonly occur in print. Because high frequency words appear repeatedly in texts, it is important for students to recognize these words with automaticity. These words then become “sight words” for the individual.
Sight word recognition of high frequency words is important because it increases fluency and allows the reader to focus upon the decoding of more complex words. As students become more fluent with decoding and sight word recognition, they are better able to focus on comprehending the text.