Contact

Alison ClarkeAlison Clarke

B.App.Sci. (Sp. Path.), M.A. (App. Ling.), CTEFLA

Certified Practising Speech Pathologist

Clifton Hill Child and Adolescent Therapy Group

Level1, 199 Queens Pde

Clifton Hill 3068

Victoria

AUSTRALIA

Phone: 0402 075 306

Email: spelfabet@gmail.com

35 thoughts on “Contact

  1. Meegan

    Hi Alison, I subscribe using RSS feed and would like to "Read more…" of the post titled 'Can teaching be toxic?' but my link isn't working and I can't find it on the Blogsite. Any suggestions? 

    Reply
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  3. brenda

    I love your website and have been finding it very helpful.  My son has dyslexia, and is in grade 4, and just now getting the help he needs.  I appreciate any information that I can find, and I like to 'pay it forward' by posting links to excellent resources for other parents and perhaps even some teachers to read.  It would be fabulous if you had those handy little share buttons at the bottom of your blog posts so I could spread the love! 

    Keep up the good work.  

    Reply
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  5. Tami Reis-Frankfort

    Hi Alison,

    I very much enjoyed your video clip 'How Phonics Got Framed' and your other blog posts. 

    I am one of the three teachers who publish Dandelion Books and Totem and Talisman Series.  I noticed that you review new products on your website.  I was wondering if you would be interested in reviewing any of our products.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Regards,

    Tami Reis-Frankfort

    Phonic Books Ltd

     

    Reply
  6. Anna O'Grady

    Hi Alison,

     

    I have just discovered your website and have shared it with the other teachers in our school.  We are just down the road from your office!  At present we are doing a review of phonics in our school and have found the information on your website to be most helpful.  It's wonderful to have so many good quality resources in one space.

    Kind regards,

    Anna O'Grady

    Deputy Principal

    St John's Primary School, Clifton Hill

    Reply
    1. alisonalison Post author

      Dear Anne, how lovely to hear from you, and I’m so glad you find my website useful. Let me know if I can help you any time, or if you know about good things that are not on my website but should be.

      I’ll have to email you some of my games, since we are practically neighbours. In fact I think my new next door neighbour is one of your prep students, she is hilariously lovely, like all preps.

      All the very best

      Alison C

      Reply
  7. Sarah

    Hi   i am an early childhood teacher and have stumbled across your wonderful website.  At work we have been having some really good discussion about blending.  I was hoping you could give me your opinion on smooth vs choppy blending.  We are well and truly into our synthetic phonics journey with wonderful results!  look forward to your insight!

    Reply
    1. alisonalison Post author

      Hi Sarah, Thanks for the nice feedback, great to hear you find my site useful. I was reading something about blending and segmenting the other day that really emphasised smoothness and minimising the gaps between sounds (I’ll remember what it was about five minutes after I click “reply” probably).

      We don’t say sounds in isolation when we talk (except in words that contain a vowel with no consonants like “I”/”eye”, “or”/”awe”/”oar”), and all speech sounds are affected by the other sounds around them. For example, you and I have an abstract, “cardinal” idea in our heads about what constitutes the sound “L”, but this sound is quite acoustically different in prevocalic position (as in “lip” and “lop”) and postvocalic position (as in “pill” and “poll”). The mouth is a mushy place so everything blurs together, the technical term for this is “coarticulation”.

      To build a child’s “cardinal” idea of the identity of each sound, we need to separate it out (keeping consonants crisp and accurate, not sloppy – see this blog post for more details), but once the concept of each sound is established, we need to quickly minimise the gaps between sounds when blending. Lots of extraneous white space between sounds doesn’t really help anyone, though there is a line to be trod between teaching children how to blend, and blending for them.

      There are some good ideas at: http://www.righttrackreading.com/blending.html. I haven’t tried the technique of getting a child to sing words, but it makes perfect sense, so I will be trying it with some persistently choppy blenders I know. Hope that helps and all the best.

      Reply
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  9. Danielle

    I have recently returned from teaching in the UK, East London, for 8 years. Where Phonics (Letters and Sounds) was my life (along with other daily subjects). Since returning to Oz, I  have found it hard to understand why there isn't a bigger drive for this to be taught in schools and the Early Years. We had such amazing results teaching with this style and program, that even my new English speakers could identify sound, segement and blend and begin to write at the age of 3 and half or 4 years. My daughter starts Kinder next year and I feel I won't be able to help myself and push phase 1 and phase 2 of the letter and sounds program, that I've taught for so many years, to be happening in the classroom.  It probably doesn't help that I have also been mum and teacher since my little one started to make and recognise sounds. Perhaps i just need to find a job!!!  

    Reply
    1. alisonalison Post author

      Hi Danielle, Wow, I want you to come and work in one of my local schools! We really need teachers like yourself to help push for more synthetic phonics in schools, so if you’d like to write a guest post for my blog about this I would be happy to use it and circulate it as best I can. Or maybe I could interview you about this, and put it on my YouTube channel, if you’d rather talk, not write? (though perhaps you are a long way away and that’s not feasible). The best people to persuade teachers are their colleagues who have firsthand experience of success. All the best, Alison

      Reply
  10. Rachael

    Hi Alison,

    Do you have a list of Melbourne Schools teaching using Synthetic Phonics (particularly near Mitcham/Donvale area)?

    Thanks,

    Rachael

    Reply
    1. alisonalison Post author

      Hi Rachael, sorry, I don’t have a list of schools using Synthetic Phonics, but what a useful thing that would be to create. Maybe it’s something Learning Difficulties Australia could set up. I’ll ask. Alison

      Reply
  11. Eileen

    Your website and products are amazing, Alison, and now I am a huge Spelfabet fan.  Please let me know when your Spelfabet Short Vowel cards are ready to be purchased.  I am an Orton-Gillingham Reading Specialist and would like to use these as soon as possible!

    With your permission, I would like to list your website on my website for OG certified reading specialists.

     

    Reply
    1. alisonalison Post author

      Hi Eileen, sorry for slow reply, had a bit of a holiday, and thanks for the lovely feedback. I have ordered a batch of cards and they should be here in a couple of weeks. I’d be very grateful if you’d link to my website, and please let me know what your site is so that I can reciprocate. All the best, Alison

      Reply
  12. Naomi

    Hello Alison,

    Do you have any favourite resources for addressing letter reversals ie, b and d ? 

    Thank you so much for your wonderful work.

    N

    Reply
    1. alisonalison Post author

      Hi Naomi, I don’t really feel like an expert on reversals, they are pretty tricky to overcome for some kids, but I ask kids to feel the shape of their mouth when saying “b” and notice their lips are in a straight line, and so we start the letter b with the line, and then do the circle. The “d” starts with lips in a circle, so we do its circle first. It’s really important to get the letter formation right so that kids have distinct motor patterns for these sounds. Then it seems to just be a matter of practice. Reversals and getting letters upside down (u-n, f-t, m-w) happen because our brains are wired to think something is the same thing no matter which direction we look at it from, but for letters that doesn’t work. Sometimes thinking of the word “bed” with “b” at the start and “d” at the end and the “e” as the mattress seems to help some kids, but a mnemonic like this is a crutch and ultimately the sound-letter links have to be faster and more automatic than any mnemonic permits. I hope that’s helpful and if I find anything else that is likely to be useful I’ll write a blog post about reversals. All the best, Alison

      Reply
  13. Barbara Cumming

    Alison, I am so looking forward to receiving the skpelfabet games.  Your video was great and was what sold me on them.  I just started teaching and am collecting as many resources as possible.  These games will be perfect for our students.

     

    Reply
    1. alisonalison Post author

      Hi Barbara, the games are all pdf downloads from my website, so as soon as you’ve paid for them you should be able to download them and print what you need. I wouldn’t be able to provide them so cheaply if I had to print, laminate, store and post them. You just need to log into the shop again and then go to the downloads page. Let me know if any problems, all the best, Alison

      Reply
  14. Jo

    Hi Alison

    I just purchased Workbook 1. Just wondering how many pages or duration per night is recommended for a 7 year old?

    Thanks
    Jo

    Reply
    1. alisonalison Post author

      Hi Jo, I just realised I answered by email but not on the blog, so if anyone else reads your question they will think I didn’t answer. So to summarise, I usually recommend doing a set of pages at a time i.e. four pages, so that the student is segmenting first initial sounds, then final sounds, then middle/vowel sounds, then writing whole words. If possible this should happen five times per week, and at a bare minimum three times. But four pages is too much for some students, and others can do more. Even the steps in this workbook can be too large for some very anxious, easily-overwhelmed students, so I sometimes add steps e.g. tracing the letters before writing them independently, writing two letters in each word before writing the whole word. Ultimately this decision needs to be made by someone who knows the child well and can work out how much is stretching them, and how much is an over-stretch. Alison

      Reply
  15. Catherine

    Hello Alison,

    I just wanted to reach out and thank you. I was pointed in the direction of your website by Lorraine Hammond, having sent her a desperate sounding email about our eldest son’s reading and spelling. He is now 10 and in grade 5, and despite having great success with his reading on the MultiLit online tutoring program (his RA came up nearly two and a half years over the course of last year!), his reading can still be haphazard and we see we have not given enough attention to spelling.

    I printed out your workbook 1 and 2 – this is too easy for him, but he had a lot of illness when he was younger, really struggles with the vowel sounds and also has a lot of self doubt and anxiety about his abilities… I wanted to give him a bit of an ego boost. Well. He slammed through 16 pages of the first workbook, and even though it was certainly easy for him, the opportunity to talk about word sounds over letters and whole words (mostly what he’s been exposed to at school) and to acknowledge that ‘he can’t know what he hasn’t been taught’ was fantastic – you could see him puff up!

    He loves to know ‘why?’ – and the way he had been taught wasn’t making sense to his very logical brain… he watched your bell curve video with me, and nodded along when you talk about how being taught a sound for a letter, and then it immediately being contradicted… this had just been so confusing, and frustrating to him… made it all seem so random. Hubby and I are sci if fans and laugh to each other that Cameron and I must have secret Vulcan DNA. For me to be able to use your resources to help him see that there is some sense and some logic to English (patterns I had been taught myself, but found I couldn’t explain to him until I had immersed myself in your fabulous videos) and for him to start to see some patterns – I’m so grateful I’m having a little cry here!

    You have given me the confidence that I can help him, and already he has an much more positive ‘I CAN do it’ outlook… and Alison? He asked this morning, on his way out the door to Little Aths, ‘ Can I do more of my spelling workbook when I get back?’… pretty sure that sums it up! Will update you in a few months… thank you!

    Reply
  16. Erin Lawler

    Hi Alison,

    I teach grade 5/6 at St Anthony’s Primary School in Alphington. I’ve just spent over four hours trawling through your website with glee!

    Thank-you for such a terrific resource.

    Erin Lawler

    Reply
    1. alisonalison Post author

      Hi Erin, glee, eh? Thank you for making my day, I’m so glad you find the site useful. Hope to meet you sometime, since you’re just a suburb away. Alison C

      Reply
  17. Debbie Simister

    Hi Alison
    We are an Australian family, now living in Tokyo. My son, now 8, really benefited from a speech therapist back in Australia who taught the same sounds you cover.
    He is now really struggling with memorization, particularly his math times tables and now Japanese characters. Any suggestions on how to build this skill?
    Debbie

    Reply
    1. alisonalison Post author

      Dear Debbie, glad to hear that your son has benefited from his therapy working on sounds, and sorry to say that I’m not an expert in memorisation of times tables or Japanese characters, but there will be other people who are who will be able to help you. Quite a few services now offer Skype consultancy so you might like to consider who you would ask in Australia and then see if you can set up a skype session to discuss the issues and suggest some strategies/activities. I think DSF in Perth routinely offers phone and Skype consultation, as WA is such a big state that not everyone can physically get to a tutor. See https://dsf.net.au/our-services. Hope that helps, Alison C.

      Reply
  18. Amanda Dunstan

    Hi Alison
    Looking for insight into the verbal errors my 10 yr old daughter is consistently making
    Tooken instead of taken
    Heared instead of heard
    etc etc
    Have tried constantly correcting her but this has shown to have 0 impact and just interrupts the flow and fluency of what she is trying to say.
    She was recently tested as 4 years behind her peers. So she obviously has some huge gaps in her phonological awareness.
    We are about to start Level 1 Barton and previously had been doing tutoring via SKYPE using mostly Cracking the Code.
    Really at a bit of a loss how to help her get to the best of her ability.

    Reply
    1. alisonalison Post author

      Hi Amanda, please ask your daughter’s school to get their speech pathologist to assess her language, the usual test is the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals 4th edition. She’s struggling to learn irregular verbs and at her age that’s very unusual, she needs to be taught about this as she is clearly not picking it up naturally. There are probably other things in her grammatical system that need attention too

      Reply
      1. Amanda Dunstan

        Sadly there is no speech pathologist at our school.

        We are rural Qld. I have been trying to track down a speech that may be interested in using SKYPE but haven’t found one that will tackle Lily’s particular struggles via internet.

        She has other grammatical errors I am sure in her speech as everyone that meets her thinks she is American.

        Just noticed SPELD do a Speech and Language assessment and I know they assess in Warwick.

        Thank you for taking the time to reply.

        Reply
  19. Charlotte Warren

    Dear Alison

    Enjoying the blog! I am wondering if I could have some suggestions regarding Skype tutoring for those of us outside Australia? I live in Japan, so roughly the same time zone as Australia. I am looking for ongoing support (not remedial or catchup work) in English literacy for my 5yo daughter over the next few years while she goes to Japanese elementary school–once or twice a week, probably.My daughter speaks English at a native level. Are you aware of any services that would consider working with us?

    Reply
    1. alisonalison Post author

      Hi Charlotte, I’m sorry but I’m not linked into mainstream/non-remedial tutoring services for little kids, perhaps you could try the parenting magazines like Melbourne’s Child, the website is here: http://www.childmags.com.au. The print versions have lots of classifieds, I’m not sure where to find these online but they must be there somewhere. All the best, Alison C

      Reply
      1. Charlotte Warren

        Thank you very much for the reply, Alison! I will take a look at the resource in question and see what I can find.

        I actually contacted the Sounds of Reading people as well, although I think they do mainly tend to do remedial work. I don’t know whether they would work for us, but if you are in touch with them I’d appreciate it so much if you could ask them to check their inboxes as I would love to hear their thoughts.

        Reply

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