Teach Reading


Worried because you want to teach reading, but you’re not a teacher?

Concerned you don’t know how to teach?

Know that you wouldn’t know what to teach?

And you really don’t want to make things worse!



Here’s a way to work through all these problem areas:

  • find out whether you might be interested in teaching reading by watching the free videos on this site. The most important ones, the videos teaching Phonemic Awareness, are here;
  • consider whether you’re equipped to teach reading. Here are the essential requirements. You:
    • can understand what I’m talking about on the videos, even if you have to listen to each one a few times to really understand what I’m saying;
    • enjoy reading and read normal material (not scientific papers/advanced degree stuff) well;
    • have a lot of patience;
    • speak in a way other people find easy to understand;
    • are reasonably organised (Don’t try to be perfect, it just frightens people away);
    • have the ability to get along with people;
    • like, cope with, and can manage upset people (including yourself – because if you follow my recommendations, you’re likely to get VERY angry when you realise just how easy it is to teach reading); and
    • are willing to do whatever it takes to teach someone who is trying to learn but doesn’t understand. Remember: If you can explain what the problem is, I can help – I won’t leave you all alone;
  • accept that, if you decide to tutor other people’s children, it’s not an occupation that’s likely to make you rich (as it’s mostly part-time – before or after school and on the weekend – as least where I live. But if you’re interested in online tutoring, as an English-speaker you wouldn’t find it difficult to find additional work.) Also, make sure you are able to take payment for your services. (You might even decide to use Paypal or Fiverr, because if lessons are paid for ahead of time, you don’t have to keep cash at home, or handle money during your lessons).



If not, don’t worry – it’s far better to know that now, rather than putting time and energy into this, and then realising that you HATE it. And don’t worry about your child, if you decide you don’t want to be a tutor – there are exceptional online learn to read courses available; I’ve put links to the best ones on my Courses page, which is linked from the Articles page.

If you are still interested, ask yourself if you have, or can get, the following resources. Let your circumstances, rather than mine, be your guide. You’ll probably need:

  • a desk or table and a couple of chairs (Use what you’ve got; being fancy won’t help you do a better job);
  • a blackboard/whiteboard (A computer with access to a printer that does plain printing; you don’t need colour printing – it looks pretty, but it’s very expensive;
  • access to a few basic stationery items:
    • a photocopier or printer or scanner would be great if you were teaching in person, but would not be necessary if you were supervising or were teaching online;
    • e.g. paper, plastic sleeves, folders; and
  • reasonably cheap, reliable access to the internet is very useful, but not essential – unless you want to be a reading tutor who teaches online.



Now, go to the Articles page, read some of the information in the Research section, and you will realise that  if most people are taught to read by teachers – and the teachers are coming up with those results – then being a teacher isn’t all that relevant to successfully teaching reading!



If you still want to know more:

  • watch the Free videos – most of them can be found listed in the Phonemic Awareness section of the Articles page;
  • download the Free PDF that goes with them. (You don’t need to print it out.); and
  • consider buying my inexpensive Phonemic Awareness Video Course, that teaches the essential pre-reading skills – and working through it. Most students lack these skills, so they were set up for failure right from the start! That’s right, right at the very beginning! The Phonemic Awareness pre-reading skills are the foundational knowledge and skills that most students lack. Once they really grasp how English works, they often race through the readinc course so rapidly that your biggest problem will be keeping up with them.

By working through the Phonemic Awareness Video Course as though you were a student, you’ll learn how your students feel AND how to teach Phonemic Awareness.



And I’ve added bonus videos at the end of the Phonemic Awareness Video Course – where I teach students to apply their new phonemic awareness knowledge to alphabet letters – and read words! By working through those Learning Letters videos, you’ll learn how to teach students alphabet letters – and read words!

And once you know how to teach all that, there’s still the problem of teaching the other things students need to learn to be able to read. To solve that problem, I recommend my book-based course, The Building Blocks of Reading Course, that takes you through the rest of the process of learning the essential sound/letter combinations.

You can see a sample of this book by clicking the blue link below:
Building Blocks of Reading Sample Package

To find out more about this course, go to the Learn to Read Book page.



Before setting up a tutoring business, give it a trial run – be a reading tutor to a couple of victims. Umm, Guinea pigs. Sorry, students!

You might find that you much prefer a particular age group or type of student. They come in all shapes and sizes.

And do a free trial lesson or two (either  by doing the teaching yourself, or by supervising and helping a student who watches my videos). Or you might prefer to teach over Skype. (You’ll need to be able to do a bit of fancy computer footwork to do this – but there are a large number of people tutoring online these days.)



There are some things I can’t help you with:

  • telling you whether or not you’d make a good tutor;
  • teaching English as a Second Language (My courses are suitable for teaching reading to people who can speak at least some English; they are not ESL courses);
  • whether you could earn a viable income;
  • how much to charge for lessons;
  • what the legal requirements are in your area;
  • whether or not you should teach in person, online, as an individual, or through an organisation such as Wyzant;
  • a qualification that shows you are qualified to teach reading;
  • how to do the fancy footwork to tutor via Skype; or
  • whether it would be best to organise things so your lessons are pre-paid via Paypal, Fiverr, etc.



The problem with using my method of teaching reading is that if the student does 2 one-hour lessons a week, and a little homework between lesson – it usually takes 25 hours at the most to teach the student to read. The problem is that the people who will follow these instructions are usually the best students, and you keep getting rid of them by teaching them to read!



I have found handing out more than one page of homework is a waste of time: students aren’t keen to do it in addition to their normal homework, and parents usually fail to see that it’s necessary; they think it’s your job to teach reading – not theirs to reinforce what you’ve taught! That’s why I go for the 2 one-hour sessions a week; there’s less time to forget what has been taught! And parents who aren’t willing to go to that sort of trouble are unlikely to go to the trouble of making sure homework is done!

The only good thing about this is that some of your past students will tell other people that you successfully taught their child to read. Free advertising!



And if you come across potential customers who:

  • forget their money more than once (Require them to go on a pre-paid plan);
  • think you charge too much;
  • are difficult to deal with;
  • think you owe them something;
  • get annoyed about doing homework;
  • don’t turn up on time;
  • who bring other children and let them run wild;
  • won’t follow instructions;
  • want to tell you how you should tutor;
  • take up more time than they are worth;
  • are too busy being angry or sorry for themselves, to be willing to knuckle down and do what needs to be done; or
  • argue.

Don’t waste time or energy on them, because these sorts of people never get any better over time! (There’s no need to be nasty, just say they “would find … (a competing tutor) better equipped to deal with their particular circumstances”. And dump them.) While it’s sad to lose your best students so consistently, keeping the bad ones is not adequate compensation – instead, look at online tutoring.

And I’d avoid teaching people for nothing – they are usually the ones who will NOT do homework, won’t turn up on time; and whose offspring are barbarians rather than of children.



Offering a free one-hour consultation (that usually ends up being 1 & 1/2-hours in length), where you get to meet the parent/older sibling who will attend the lessons with the student. (This is ESSENTIAL. Never accept an unaccompanied student – you are not running a babysitting service! But, the adult might want to speak to you without the student around, so they can speak plainly.).

You also want to meet the student, prior to beginning lessons – even a few minutes can be enough! Just say that it’s essential (“so you can see whether you can help them”). Doing this will save you a lot of stress in the longer-term, as it will enable you to weed out nearly all of the “undesirables” listed above. And you’ll learn a lot from each consultation – conditions in the schools, how parents feel about their child’s difficulties, how the child feels, what exactly parents think is going wrong, and how well the parent and child would be able to work together on homework, etc.

That’s not to say that you should dump everyone who is in difficulty. You do need to be someone who can deal with unhappy people – and some students have had an appalling time – but those are usually NOT the ones who whinge; instead, once they realise you’re actually going to do something useful for them – they’re likely to be the ones you’ll struggle to keep up with.



Many students in difficulty have come to sincerely believe that they’ve been unable to learn to read because they’re too stupid to learn. If you’ve read some of the articles on this site, you’ll know that’s not true – the problem is that they were not taught to read using a full phonics course that taught the most common sound/letter combinations, and they were taught to treat words as pictures, or were told to guess!



Some students find videos too much to cope with. If that’s so for your student, you could watch the videos, then teach the information to your student using the information and pictures in the PDF or in the book.

In the book, you’ll notice that the information about the sound, hand sign, and letter are all taught together. This suits some students, particularly those with sensory overload who often need hands-on types of practice immediately after they’ve learned something, and who need to learn peacefully and quietly at their own pace.



I know some top tutors who insist on testing students in their consultations. I just found it stressed everyone – so I gave it up very early, or just tested the phonemic awareness skills, because if those skills are lacking the student won’t be able to read! But see what suits you.



I also recommend that you stay right out of the Whole Word/Phonics debate, as well as the debates between different types of phonics. Debating is a great time and energy-waster. If you have time to waste – cleaning your house and yard, or preparing some food or extra homework ahead of time are far more productive ways to spend your time time, in my opinion.

And stay away from teacher-bashing. Teachers slave their hearts out. And the bureaucracy they have to deal with every day just makes teaching even more difficult – often to the point of making good teaching impossible!

The System doesn’t want to change; so you’ll probably have to decide between changing the System and changing a child’s life. If you want to make changing the system your goal, go ahead. If you want to change a student’s life, do that. But trying to change both will probably mean that you succeed at neither.



If you want to help people, and improve their lives forever – teaching reading really packs a punch.

There are lots of different sorts of people who need to learn to read:

  • adults whose employment opportunities are limited due to literacy problems;
  • disabled people who missed out on schooling;
  • housebound people;
  • migrants, especially older ladies (who feel more comfortable learning in groups of 2 -4);
  • older children;
  • prisoners;
  • refugees;
  • retirement-age adults;
  • small children; and
  • the underprivileged, whose children need tutors, but they can’t afford to pay the going rate.



So if you decide you’d like to teach reading, learn more about the Phonemic Awareness Video Course, watch the free videos, and go to the Phonemic Awareness Course page.

To learn more about The Building Blocks of Reading Course book, go to the Learn to Read Book page.


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