This site provides resources for parents, grandparents and other relatives, and tutors who want a child or older student to learn to read at home. It can also be useful to people who are wanting to improve their own reading skills.
These materials include a pre-reading skills course: the Phonemic Awareness Video Course, and The Building Blocks of Reading Course Book that can be used by parents, teachers, and tutors to teach reading to students of school age to adult.
The Articles page contains a list of resources, including: links, PDFs, resources, and videos – listed by topic.
On this site, you’ll find:
- inexpensive resources that help students learn to read at home in weeks, not years;
- materials that help students catch up to their peers in a few months;
- courses that teach the essentials, and help students make real progress;
- information that solves specific problems (such as confusion between letters b and d, or not knowing how to sound out). (For this type of help, see the Problems section of the Articles page); and
- material that makes sense, so that it’s easier for both you and your student to learn it, remember it, and apply it to real words.
Why students have trouble reading
Students who have trouble with reading, usually struggle because:
- they are not aware that words are made up of separate sounds;
- they haven’t learnt the essential pre-reading skills that are called Phonemic Awareness Skills. To hear a list of the sounds (or phonemes) in English, you could watch my List of Phonemes video. I recommend you take your students through my FREE, comprehensive Phonemic Awareness Skills Video Course in order to equip them so that they are ready to learn to read;
- they lack basic knowledge about how writing works. (The first video in the Phonemic Awareness Video Course tells you about this. This video is called the Introduction to Phonemic Awareness for Parents video. It explains Phonemic Awareness to you in under 20 minutes. This video can be found on the Videos page. The next two videos, the two Introduction to Phonemic Awareness for Students videos, explain Phonemic Awareness to students in under 20 minutes). These videos are available as part of the Phonemic Awareness Video Course; and
- they haven’t made the link between the sound and its letter/s; this is called Phonics. To read the Phonics article, click here.
Students shouldn’t blame themselves
There’s no need for students to blame themselves for not being able to learn to read in the past, because none of the reasons why they couldn’t learn to read were their fault. The reasons that students fail to read are:
- what they were told didn’t make sense;
- the work was unnecessarily difficult so it was just too hard to learn;
- it took so long to learn that they kept forgetting what they’d been taught previously; and
- the most common reason – they had not been told how written really English works! I’m being polite. What I really mean is that they’d been told a pack of lies!
Common how to read instructions – that are wrong!
I’ve written some common how-to-read instructions students are given, below. After each one I’ve put in square brackets what the students are really being told to do.
When most students are being taught to read – they are told:
- “Don’t sound it out, just say the word.” [In other words – Guessing is the way we read!];
- “Say the sound for the first letter, then say the rest of the word.” [Start off by sounding out, then substitute any word of the correct length or shape – Sound out, then Guess];
- “Think what word would make sense here.”/”You’ve got to create your own meaning!” [Guess again];
- “Try and remember this word – we learned it last week.” [English is so random that you have to learn and remember each word individually.];
- “You know this story, you’ve read it to me before.” [In other words, the way we read is by reciting]; or
- “What short words can you see in this long word? Say them, then put them together!” [This is called part-word-assembling, and has nothing to do with reading longer words. And it’s amazing how many people try to read this way; you might even use this tactic yourself!”]
All these very common instructions are WRONG. Instead, students should be told to say the sound for each letter (or letter team), then say the sounds closer together until the sounds blend into a word. As they become more experienced, they sound out and blend smoothly in one go!
So, if you want your child or student to (finally) learn how reading really works, take your student through the Phonemic Awareness Video Course, then place your child on a Learn to Read course that will build on that foundation. My course is a book you take the student through after Phonemic Awareness has been learnt. I have also listed some online Learn to Read courses here, in case you don’t want to do the teaching yourself.