In 2019 the Spelfabet team expanded to four people:
Alison Clarke, Speech Pathologist
Alison has been a Speech Pathologist since 1988, and also holds a Masters in Applied Linguistics and an ESL teaching certificate. She has worked for the Victorian Education Department, Yooralla, SCOPE, a University in Mexico, a hospital in London, the Royal Children’s Hospital and Lewis and Lewis. She started her private practice in 2000 in Footscray, moved it to Clifton Hill in 2012, and then to North Fitzroy in 2018.
Alison set up this Spelfabet website in 2012, because she was keen to encourage early literacy teaching and intervention that reflects scientific reading research. She was 2015-16 Vice President of Learning Difficulties Australia (LDA), and has also worked as an administrator, and been a City Councillor and Mayor. She received LDA’s 2018 Mona Tobias Award. Alison works more than full-time and still can’t get everything done.
Caitlin Stephenson, Speech Pathologist
Caitlin holds a Bachelor of Health Sciences and Master of Speech Pathology, completed in 2014. Before that she did a Diploma of Auslan and a Diploma of Interpreting (Auslan/English), and worked as an Auslan interpreter. Caitlin’s current research studies are exploring how teachers and speech pathologists collaborate on literacy teaching.
Caitlin has experience in early childhood, mainstream and special education settings, and is an enthusiastic professional learner, whose training includes Sounds~Write, MultiLit, Cued Articulation and the Secret Agent Society social skills program.
Caitlin works at Spelfabet on Mondays from 10.30am to 6.30pm, and juggles the rest of her time working in a special education setting, managing her research degree and preventing her cat from eating puzzle pieces.
Tessa Weadman, Speech Pathologist
Tessa holds a Bachelor of Health Sciences and a Master’s degree in Speech Pathology, completed in 2015. She is now studying for a PhD focussed on the oral language and emergent literacy skills of preschool children.
Tessa has previously worked for the Department of Education and Training, in various clinic-based settings, and as a sessional tutor at La Trobe University. Her main clinical interests are reading and spelling difficulties, speech-language disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Tessa works at Spelfabet on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10.30am to 6.30pm. She is passionate about hummus.
Renee Vlahos, Office Administrator
Renee also holds a Bachelor of Health Sciences and Master’s degree in Speech Pathology, completed in 2013, but she is not practising.
She has worked as a retail manager and in hospitality, and is a great organiser.
General interests include binge-watching TV shows and snacking.
1. To provide helpful, accessible, Australian information for anyone who wants to help a beginning or struggling reader/speller with:
- Discerning and manipulating sounds in words (phonemic awareness/proficiency), and/or
- Learning the complicated way English sounds are represented by letters/groups of letters (graphemes), and/or
- Learning how longer words are often made up of meaningful word parts spelt in patterned ways (morphemes).
To promote high-quality research and teaching resources aiming to improve accurate word-level reading and spelling.
2. To encourage schools to adopt a Response To Intervention (RTI) approach, so that 95-97% of children learn to read and spell well in their first three years of schooling, allowing intervention resources to be efficiently targeted towards the remaining 3-5% of children with significant learning difficulties.
3. To make the Spelfabet literacy-teaching materials publicly available, and publicise Spelfabet’s assessment, therapy and professional development services. Income from these make it possible to maintain this website.
Many mainstream phonics materials are poorly designed, and show a weak understanding of the sounds and spellings of English, and how we learn. Many of the high-quality synthetic phonics materials available are too “teddy-bearish” for use with older learners, because they’re designed for five and six-year-olds.
Alison first devised the Spelfabet materials because she needed materials to use with older children and teenagers which were affordable, phonetically accurate, easy for aides and parents to use, progressing in tiny, errorless-learning steps and with Australian English grammar, vocabulary and spelling. She also wanted something easy to carry on a USB stick for printing, laminating and binding at school. Materials are pdf downloads from this website’s shop.
Your feedback and suggestions
Alison would love to hear your feedback, suggestions or questions on the Spelfabet materials or website. Any researchers who’d like to subject our materials to scientifically rigorous testing would have our full and enthusiastic support.