Upcoming training in synthetic phonics

36 Replies

Please note this is a 2016 blog post and some of it is now out of date.

I’m on the Professional Development committee for Learning Difficulties Australia, so have been madly researching quality training in synthetic phonics currently on offer in Australia.

My theory is that the more we can publicise other people’s good training, the less we’ll need to run ourselves as volunteers, in our copious (not) spare time.

I’ve discovered there’s quite a bit of training about sounds and their spellings available, if you know where to look. Some is very focussed on phonemic awareness and phonics, the biggest gaps in teacher training. Some also covers vocabulary, comprehension and fluency, the three other Five Big ideas in beginning reading instruction.

The following list of upcoming training is intended only as a guide. Please check courses out thoroughly for yourself before signing up, and make sure you ask what program materials are supplied as part of the course, as a few courses include stacks of valuable program materials you’d otherwise have to buy separately. The list is in alphabetical order by program name, and includes both in-person training and webinars/online training.

Program name(s) Training provider(s) and links/contacts, approx costs Recommended for
Corrective Reading – Decoding and Spelling Mastery
  • Claire Scott will be running training in these Direct Instruction programs in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick in Term 2. Corrective Reading will be 9am-3pm on Friday 29th April; Spelling Mastery will be 9am-3pm on Friday 27th May. Cost is $275 per person, group discounts available, contact Claire on cgscott@netspace.net.au, or Melina Deliyannis on melina.deliyannis@mheducation.com,
Catch-up learners of any age
Get Reading Right  Young beginners (about age 4-7)
Jolly Phonics
  •  Jolly Education and Training, $190 per person per day.
  • Jolly Discoveries provides training for schools, $990 per day for a group (2018 update: website seems to no longer exist).
  • SPELD-SA, $95 per person for half a day, about $450 per half day for a school group, member discounts available.
  • DSF in Perth, $110 per person for half a day, member discounts available.
 Young beginners (about age 4-7)
Letters and Sounds
  • DSF in Perth. Letters and Sounds is a free UK government phonics resource published in 2007, which works in six phases from oral language to reading and spelling fluency. 2-day training, $175 per day. DSF also runs a one-day Effective Teaching of Literacy workshop, which again looks at structured, cumulative teaching, $175. Member discounts available for both these courses.
Any age
Lindamood-Bell ADD 2020 update: David Kilpatrick’s review of effective programs indicates that the Lindamood Auditory Discrimination in Depth program is effective but later programs do not have so much research support.  Any age
Little Learners Love Literacy 2020 There are now ongoing LLLL workshops at their office in Surrey Hills and online, see their training website Young beginners (about age 4-7)
Multilit Multilit staff, their workshop calendar for the first half of 2016 is here. Pre-lit and MiniLit are for young beginners; their other programs are for catch-up learners. Most of the individual training costs about $480 per person per day, and most program materials are purchased separately. Any age
Phonics International  UK Synthetic Phonics guru Debbie Heppelwhite has Phonics Training Online for AUD$194.61 (at today’s exchange rate, I just signed up) for 43 modules, with a total of 20 hours of videos. The course includes a 12-month licence of the Phonics International program. Another bargain.  Any age
Reading Doctor Adelaide Speech Pathologist, literacy expert and app developer Dr Bartek Rajkowski will be running workshops around the country. All ages
Read-Write Inc and Fresh Start Liz Chapman is running a two-Saturdays workshop on 7 and 14 May in Brighton about these programs, click here for the flier.  $160 per person per day. Young beginners and catch-up learners
Sound Waves Sound-Waves is an Australian whole-school spelling program with a focus on phonemic awareness and phonics, and has a training calendar. Primary school students
Sounds~Write  Mary Gladstone is running a four-day Sounds~Write training in Melbourne in July, click here for the flyer. Cost is $175 per person per day, which includes the whole program apart from some decodable books and workbooks which can be purchased separately.  Any age
Spalding The Writing Road to Reading Spalding Education Australia runs intensive 45-hour certificate courses, usually in the school holidays from 8am to 1pm, and also has an online 10-hour parent course, which can be done over 2-3 months. The certificate courses cost about $900 plus another $600 for materials (so ~$200 per person per day for everything). The parent course costs $60 plus $190 in materials (~$150 per person per day).
That Reading Thing The UK’s Tricia Millar runs online training, which costs $259 plus p&p for a day of training and all program materials. Tricia and I have been discussing whether she can come to Australia to run training here this year, so please email me NOW if that’s of interest: spelfabet@gmail.com Teenagers and adults
Write to Read Marian Dunne from Write to Read is based in Melbourne and has upcoming courses. Her three-day Certificate 1 course costs $450 and her 5-day Certificate 2 course is $550, so the average per-day cost is $125.  All ages

Melbourne Speech Pathologist Helen Botham also runs Cued Articulation workshops for teachers, both in person (in Melbourne) and online, which are a great way for teachers to improve their knowledge of the sounds of spoken English (phonology), and their understanding of how these sounds link with the letters that spell them.

The British Dyslexia Association also runs online training, which I’ve run out of time to research, but you can check it out here. SPELD SA also has a basic online course called “Teaching a Child to Read and Write“.

My “Understanding spelling well enough to explain it to kids” workshop at SPELD on March 17 has sold out, but if you want me to run it again, just say.

Also please note that the UK’s ResearchEd conference will be coming to Melbourne this year, on 21 May. It’s not specific to phonics but it will cover lots of interesting stuff about teaching and learning, and costs an incredible $25 to $60 per person, so should fit everyone’s PD budget.

If you know of a good synthetic phonics course I don’t have on this list, please tell me about it.


36 responses to “Upcoming training in synthetic phonics”

  1. Joel Oakley says:

    Spalding Spelling is not mentioned here.
    It is one of the most established programs and definitely deserves inclusion.
    Spalding runs several courses for parents and tutors. It is a comprehensive multi-sensory program that is used in many US and some Australian schools.
    Spalding tutors operate throughout Australia.

  2. Kaye says:

    Well, as a teacher who has used and seen the results of the products in schools, I can say what is NOT effective for dyslexia! Reading Mastery/Corrective Reading are NOT in any way appropriate for dyslexic learners who are reading below grade level. That means that for the vast majority of struggling readers, those programs are not effective.

    • alison says:

      Hi Kaye, your experience is disappointing but perhaps the way these programs were implemented was the problem, since the research on their effectiveness with implementation exactly as written, proper experimental controls etc does show that they are effective. I don’t actually find them very appealing because they’re very wordy and American, and my Australian students often have oral language difficulties as well as their written language problems, plus I mostly work with small groups or in one-to-one so I don’t need the crowd control aspects of these programs, I can hear all my students and monitor their progress without them. But anyway there is no need to use these programs if you don’t like them or have seen them used in an ineffective way, there are plenty of other programs with good evidence behind them.

  3. Robyn Grace says:

    MILA 1 – The Multisensory Integration of Language Arts course is a method of teaching English based on a phonetic system. It is a comprehensive and integrated program involving spelling, reading and writing. It is highly successful with all students as it is thorough and builds knowledge and skills quite quickly. It is regularly used with students ranging from 3 to adulthood and is highly regarded by older students and adults who have failed at learning to read and write in the past or those from non-english speaking backgrounds.
    It gives the students an extremely logical, sequential and systematic basis on which to develop literacy skills. It is the most frequently quoted program in all other phonetically based literacy programs. It is a scientifically proven and accredited literacy program by IMSLEC and the International Dyslexia Association. It is the original and the best!!

    It is an intensive course of 45 hours. It is recognised as a tertiary subject in some States and is an internationally recognised qualification. The course is held in the school holidays to enable teachers to attend. It usually runs from 8am until 1pm daily for 10 days with around 1-2 hours of homework each night.
    In terms of costs, the course itself is $900 however this does not include supplies and textbooks. Overall it usually adds up to roughly $1500. You will use the supplies with the students you would be working with. This course is not available online as it involves quite a deal of practical instruction and demonstration work.

    There is also the Home Educators Online course designed for parents whose children are learning using Spalding, so they are able to support them at home and enhance what they are learning at school or with a tutor. It will give you an introduction to the sounds and rules and guide you around the basics of the program. This course is $60 in tuition fee and about $190 in requisites. If you choose this option I create an invoice, you pay the invoice and I send off the goods and notify the States to send the links through to you. It involves 10 X 1 hour sessions to be completed over 2 – 3 months. I have attached a registration form if you require.

    You should note that this course DOES NOT qualify you to teach or tutor using the Spalding method and you would not be able to promote or advertise yourself as Spalding trained. It is a course designed primarily for parents to help their child who is being tutored by someone qualified in the program.

    • alison says:

      Dear Robyn,

      I’m so sorry that I neglected to include Spalding in my list of training courses, I should have realised that you have ongoing training on offer, and will update the blog post now. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this useful comment, I agree that Spalding is a good example of structured, explicit teaching about sounds and their spellings. Alison C

  4. Karene Knight says:

    Hi Alison
    My son used Sound Waves in Prep with Distance Education and we have continued it in Year 1. What do you think of this program? He enjoys the games and appears to be progressing well.

    • alison says:

      Hi Karene, I like Sound Waves and when schools ask me about whole-school spelling programs that’s usually the first one I suggest. I probably prefer that kids who are “at risk” (and the rest of their classmates, so that they aren’t singled out) start out using a program that integrates decodable books with the teaching sequence, and a few of the activities in the early years Sound Waves books make me scratch my head a little, but it’s about eleventy billion miles ahead of the mainstream initial phonics + memorising high frequency words + look at the picture and guess approach that’s so widespread in schools, so good on you for using it and I’m glad your son likes it and is progressing well.

  5. Allison,I sell a phoneme deck of the 44 speech sounds and 90 grapheme representations with an accompanying video tutorial.
    Cost $100.00

    Looking for a U.K. distributor

    You can see some footage of the instruction on the website videos

    Love the site!

    • alison says:

      Hi Jo-Anne, thanks for letting me know about your materials, they look great though our accent in Australia is different from yours, do you have a UK version that we could use here? I’m sure if you do, there will be specialist suppliers in the UK who’d be interested. You might also like to approach Australian specialist educational suppliers like DSF (https://dsf.net.au), SA Speld (www.speld-sa.org.au), Silvereye (www.silvereye.com.au), Seelect (www.seelect.com.au) or Smartkids (www.smartkids.com.au). All the best with it, there’s no such thing as too many good program options from my point of view. Alison C

      • http://www.remediationplus.com
        Hi Allison,I also sell teacher guide binders of explicit systematic lesson plans.
        Phoneme decks as mentioned and a preventive K curriculum with a video tutorial.

        I will check this out,how kind of you.
        If you google Remediation Plus Hub,you can peek around at the binders which come with 7 hours of video instruction.
        The pass phrase for the binders is:
        training reading teacher 777
        A 35 lb kit is $2,000.00 if we sell 10 at once otherwise it`s more.
        A true reading course for teachers.

  6. MrsM says:

    Your thoughts on THRASS training?

    • alison says:

      Hi, I haven’t done the THRASS training myself though I have tried using some THRASS materials purchased by one of the schools I worked in, and talked to people who have done the training. It didn’t appear on the list of approved synthetic phonics program in the UK (www.gov.uk/government/collections/phonics-choosing-a-programme), I’m not sure why but if you google around you might be able to find an explanation. I find some of the THRASS activities a bit too metalinguistic for many of my students with speech and language difficulties, and for very young children. But I’d say it’s certainly better than many other things which are badged as “phonics”. Sorry that’s not very specific but I hope it’s of some help to you.

      • Mrs M says:

        Thank you Alison for taking the time to respond. I will look further into it. Thanks again!

        • Denyse Ritchie says:

          Hello Mrs M,
          I suggest you visit the THRASS Facebook page to see what teachers think about THRASS training and use in schools with learners at all levels and disabilities.
          The meta linguistic terms used are very simple and mirror those used in math, which are taught to give understanding to the process and phonics patterns.
          THRASS scored 10/10 in the the first year as an approved phonics program in the U.K. But the second year, only synthetic letter sounds programs were approved. As THRASS. has both both synthetic and analytic elements in the teaching process it was not endorsed.
          Learning to read and spell requires both process to be sustainable for long term learning and to differentiate for learners at different learning levels. .
          I do hope this helps

      • Robyn Grace says:

        Hi Mrs M,
        I have done Thrass training and implemented into one of the schools I was working in. we trialled it for a year and did not see any discernible difference in the student’s literacy results. As with any specific phonics program, I believe something is better than nothing. However, I found the charts were very difficult for student’s to manage and manipulate, especially those with visual perception difficulties. They gave the students no hooks to use to help them understand which particular phonogram to use. There list of “exceptions” of words that do not fit the patterns ends up longer than the list of words that do. I also had real difficulties with the way they pronounce many sounds and words. It is very cockney English.

      • Denyse Ritchie says:

        Hello Alison,
        I was asked to visit this page. As you have not done THRASS training I would like to invite you as my guest to attend free training so you understand the process and can comment from experience. THRASS did get 10/10 the first time round as a synthetic phonics program, but two year later on the next check we didn’t as we teach letter names to identify graphemes. THRASS was not seen as purely synthetic and as such did not meet the ‘synthetic only’ phonic teaching set in the criteria. Obviously we were not happy as the whole process behind THRASS is to teach the synthesising of sounds into words and then look at their spelling patterns. THRASS is based on phonographics not graphphonics. I believe in very explicit and receptive teaching of the 44 phonemes of English to establish effective phonemic awareness. (something that teachers must be trained to do) The teaching of Phonics then comes more easily.
        We would love to see you at a course…Please just contact our office on 0892442119.
        Kind regards

        • alison says:

          Dear Denyse, That’s a very kind offer, thank you, I am completely frantic at work at the moment so can’t take it up this term, but perhaps next term I can do so. All the best, Alison

          • Denyse Ritchie says:

            Great, I will catch up with you at LDC. in Melbourne!

          • Jess says:

            Hi Alison,

            I’m interested to know if you completed the THRASS training last year?


          • alison says:

            Hi Jess, no I didn’t do the THRASS training last year, I had a closer look at it and decided I had higher priorities. All the best, Alison

  7. Jude says:

    Are these dates for 2016? Any for this year?

    • alison says:

      They are old dates but if you follow the links you should be able to find what each provider is offering this year. I haven’t had time to write a new version!

  8. Jude Mathers says:

    Alison please run your spelling workshop again I’d like an email/notification if you go ahead, please.


    Jude Mathers.

  9. Kathleen Ward says:

    Hi Alison, I’ve recently discovered your blog and I am loving it! Thank you for your generosity in sharing your knowledge and expertise openly.
    I have been a speech pathologist for many years, mostly working with kids aged 3-10, but found it difficult to re-enter the profession after taking time off to raise my four children, so I’ve started my Dip Ed to become a primary school teacher. At Uni, we are looking closely at the Letters and Sounds program, which seems to be solid, but I am intrigued by the Sounds-Write program and want to learn more, particularly about the routine lessons they use (eg. word building, symbol swap, the use of nonsense words, etc). However, I just don’t have a spare $730 to do the training. Do you recommend this approach for the classroom over Letters and Sounds? Should I be going into debt to do the course? Or is there another synthetic phonics approach you would recommend over Sounds-Write?

    Thanks for any advice. I will continue to follow your blog and look to you for solid evidence-based practice and reviews.



    • alison says:

      Hi Kathleen, thanks for the nice website feedback, your students will be lucky to have a teacher with a solid background in linguistics. Letters and sounds is pretty good to my way of thinking, but is more of a guide than a program, the practical implementation isn’t as well-thought-through as programs like Sounds-Write. Sounds-Write’s training is cheap compared to many other courses, and includes all materials, whereas a lot of courses only provide the training and then you have to buy their materials separately. But some of the Sounds-Write course is about linguistics so as a speech pathologist you already know it. It’s really the issue of how to implement synthetic phonics with a group of 25 children that SPs don’t know and need a good program for, and it’s important to not discount the time it takes to devise and produce your own program, as many teachers seem to try to do. But you are the only one who can decide what you can afford, don’t skip meals for this! Alison

  10. MrsM says:

    Hello again Alison,

    Any thoughts on Orton – Gillingham V MacLit for struggling teenagers?


    • alison says:

      Dear Gay, my profuse apologies for taking ages to notice and reply to your question. End-of-term-itis is my excuse and I am sticking to it, ehem. I am not really an expert on either Orton-Gillingham or MacquLit but if I had to choose for Australian schools I would probably choose Macqulit. I had a look at it just before it was published and it looked good, the Multilit people have the runs on the board in terms effectiveness, I think it includes more spelling than other programs they have produced to date as they’ve realised that that was a gap needing filling, and it’s Australian not American so the vowels will all be relevant to us. Every time I use an American phonics system I run up against the problem that they think the vowel sound is the same in “dog” and “saw”, and in “tube” and “moon”, and they think there are three sounds in “car” but we only say two, as Aussies use a non-rhotic accent. Also my understanding is that OG involves learning a lot of rules and doing things that are considered “multisensory” that don’t really have proper evidence to back them up. However, I am not an expert in either system so if you know someone who is, then please take their advice rather than mine. Hope that helps. Alison.

  11. Annette says:

    Please would you contact me. I have been a Dyslexia Soecialist for 25 years and would love to get a job in Australia. Accredited by the BDA
    In London.
    I also teach handwriting & touch -typing
    Currently training to be a child therapist and doing and Montessori course.

    • alison says:

      Hi Annette, Great to hear you’d like to work in Australia. I think you should get in touch with Learning Difficulties Australia and find out whether you have the qualifications and experience to be an LDA consultant, as there is plenty of tutoring work for good, experienced people here, I am constantly searching for people to refer to. See http://www.ldaustralia.org/consultants.html. Good luck!

  12. […] Learning Difficulties Australia.  The list of training providers can be found on her blog here: http://www.spelfabet.com.au/2016/03/upcoming-training-in-synthetic-phonics/.  If your tutor has done one of these you know its […]

  13. Missy Ward says:

    Hi Alison, I’m wondering if you have a review of Marian Dunne’s Write to Read program? I am looking at schools for my daughter and one school uses this program. Thanks

    • alison says:

      Hi Missy, I haven’t done Marian Dunne’s training but one of my staff has, and found much of it helpful, and I talked to Marian years ago about it and she really seemed to know her linguistics. Sorry that I don’t have a detailed knowledge of it, I think it’s more of a teacher training approach than a program, which makes a lot of sense. Once teachers understand how our writing system works, they can use a range of programs and resources well. Even a brilliant program won’t work very well if the person teaching it doesn’t understand its logic or how to use it. I hope that’s helpful, all the best, Alison

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