Contact

Alison Clarke

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

Certified Practising Speech Pathologist

Suite 3, 430 Rae St

North Fitzroy, 3068, Victoria

AUSTRALIA

Phone: 0402 075 306

Email: spelfabet@gmail.com

But please don’t drop into my office without an appointment, as I am currently fully booked.

90 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
    1. Meg Tasker

      Hello Alison,
      Apologies, I was meant to attend your SPELD workshop tonight, but unfortunately I got caught up at an SSG meeting at school (in Bacchus Marsh) and haven’t been able to make it back to town in time.
      Is it possible to please receive a copy of any hand outs? Or are you perhaps running the workshop again at a later date?
      Many thanks,
      Meg

      Reply
      1. alison Post author

        Hi Meg, I can send you the handout, yes, and the SPELD person is going to circulate the slides though they won’t make a lot of sense without having been there, I don’t like using slides that have a lot of text on them as people read the slide rather than listening, so lots of them are just pictures.

        I’ve done the preparation for this workshop so I should run it again sometime I guess, yes. Just finding a time! Alison

        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. alison 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. alison 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. alison 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. alison 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. alison 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. alison 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. alison 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. alison 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. alison 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. alison 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. alison 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. alison 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
  20. Kendall Lester

    Hi Alison, I read that you were updating your workbooks and I was just wondering if the books currently available are the updated versions, or if they’re still to come. Very keen to get started Thanks so much!

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Kendall, the books on the site are the old ones, I worked on the new stuff for most of the weekend but everything takes longer than I expected, sigh. Shouldn’t be too much longer though. Sorry. Alison

      Reply
  21. Rosemary Staak

    Hi Alison I have just sent you an email regarding some freebies I have ordered. You are a very interesting lady. I am a Literacy Tutor with 2 others at Ravenswood Neighbourhood House. We are a community house run by the community for the community. We have 5 adult students and they are challenging to work witih. They have grown so much since we started with them last term. Their confidence has grown and they walk with their heads held up high now.
    Cheers
    Rosey

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Rosemary, glad to hear your students are doing well, I haven’t received your email yet but will keep an eye out for it. All the best, Alison

      Reply
  22. Terry

    Hi Alison,

    Your website is great. Thanks so much for all the hard work you have put into it. I was just having a robust discussion with my colleague about the use of onset-rime spelling lists. What are your thoughts on them?

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Terry, I think onset-rime spelling lists are better than random spelling lists, but the grain size is not the one on which our spelling system is based, so they aren’t as good as phoneme-grapheme-correspondence based spelling lists in terms of the reusability of the information.

      For example, in the words fight, fright and flight there are three onsets and one rime: f, fr, fl and ight. There are five phoneme-grapheme correspondences: f, r, l, igh and t. These are much more reusable than the onsets and rime for spelling purposes, for instance you can use the igh in high, sigh and thigh, you can use the r in bring, crust and grid, you can use the l in clock, flush and slam and you can use the t in truck, stick and flat. There are 50+ onsets in English (depending on whether you count rare ones like the thw in thwart and the sph in sphere) but there are hundreds of rimes, and you can’t teach them all. So it’s better to focus on the much more finite set of phonemes, of which there are 44 if your accent is like mine, and then first teach their major graphemes when teaching spelling. Each phoneme has one to four major graphemes (e.g. the sound “ay” has a…e as in take, ai as in rain, ay as in day and a as in paper. Each is used in a different way e.g. ay is for endings, a is for words of more than one syllable, ai is mostly before n and l, as in rain and rail. Then teach the other spellings kids will meet in their daily activities, like the ey in grey, the eigh in eight, the ea in great, the ei in vein, the e in cafe, the ee in matinee, the e…e in fete and the aigh in straight. Sort the words into groups and notice that some groups are very small (e.g. aigh is in one common word and its derivatives). This makes teaching spelling much more finite and do-able

      Reply
  23. Caroline

    Hi Alison,
    I would like to seek your advise on building sentence. My son is grade 1 but he is so behind in the class in literacy, numeracy, sounding out words. We have speech therapist session and working on the sound. His reading level improves a lot but his writing skills are far behind. Please recommend where to start to use your workbook here.
    Thank you so much.
    Caroline

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Dear Caroline, I’m so sorry to hear that your son is very behind his peers, and I wish I could give you good, specific professional advice without ever meeting him, but it’s simply not possible or responsible to do so. He really needs a professional assessment and then you need proper, expert guidance on how to help him. Can this be organised through your school? If you want to find a speech pathologist with literacy expertise in your area, try the “find a speech pathologist” function on the Speech Pathology Australia website, http://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au. The other good option might be an LDA tutor, you can find them here: https://www.ldaustralia.org/tutor-search.html. All the very best with helping him. Alison

      Reply
  24. Bernadette Tapscott

    Hello Alison
    Love all of your work resources and am grateful you share so readily thanks.
    I was wondering if you can tell me if the spelling program Sound Waves and Words Their Way are evidence based programs.
    Thanks Bernadette

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Bernadette, I have Sound Waves but don’t use it much as it’s meant to be a classroom resource, and I prefer to use Sounds Write, Little Learners Love Literacy and other synthetic phonics resources with young kids, and find the remainder of it is a bit busy and complex for my older students. But I think it’s pretty useful for teachers who are working with mainstream kids in upper grades on consolidating their spelling. I don’t know a lot about Words Their Way but what I’ve seen of it hasn’t really impressed me, see https://www.spelfabet.com.au/2013/06/words-their-way. Hope that’s useful. Alison

      Reply
  25. Sarah Green

    Hi Alison,
    I’m looking for a graphemes/phonemes poster for my son’s play corner. Initial phonics everywhere and not much else.
    Any recommendations?
    Thanks

    Reply
  26. Nancy Groves

    Hi.
    I am a homeschooler and mum of 7.
    My oldest son was an amazing reader from the start and my daughter, who is 13, struggled a lot with reading and is still not great with comprehension for some styles, but she can read well enough to enjoy Friday Barnes books. I am confident she will continue to improve.
    My third child, Joshua, is 11 and still cannot read. He was tested by a speech pathologist who said he knew all the phonics sounds. He has been to a behavioural optometrist who says his sight is fine. Although he knows the phonics he tries to read everything by sight and isn’t at all interested in learning to read. He just asks someone else to read it for him and gets angry if we ask him to work it out himself. His younger brother (8), is a little behind for his age but is ready quite well, so he will read things for Joshua. I don’t know what to do to help him. Your program looks good but I don’t know where to start with it. Do you offer a package deal for everything? I would most likely use it for the younger kids later anyway. Should I just use your program and start from the beginning even though he already knows things? How much time should I spend with him on this each day? Should I still be asking him to read to me each day in addition to the worksheets etc?
    I’m so lost and yours is the only resources I could find which I can afford.. everything else is over $500!
    Thanks in advance 🙂

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Dear Nancy, thanks for your message, I’m so sorry that Joshua doesn’t seem interested in learning to read, but I’d be quite surprised if he actually isn’t interested, it’s such a vital skill. The “I don’t care” attitude might just be a mask he hides behind. I’d love to be able to give you specific professional advice without ever having met him, but that would be highly unprofessional of me, so I can’t. He really needs to see a professional, but without knowing where you are I don’t know who to suggest contacting. But if you really can’t afford professional fees, would he be willing to try writing some of the words on my low-frequency spelling test, to give you an idea of what he can and can’t spell? Could you try some of the SPELD SA phonic books, which are freely downloadable? Also maybe try the local public library, perhaps they have some decodable books, like Magic Belt or other Phonic Books, or the Rip Rap books. He should definitely be reading every day as well as doing written work, like other kids his age, otherwise they will all just keep getting further and further ahead of him. I hope that helps and please email me on spelfabet@gmail.com if you want to discuss how to help him further. All the very best, Alison

      Reply
  27. Karen

    Hi Alison,

    I am wondering how you would assign the letters in “could” or “would” on a phoneme-grapheme map? Thanks for your thoughts.

    Karen

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      I assign them c-oul-d, sh-oul-d and w-oul-d, just because of Occam’s Razor, I want the smallest number of categories possible.

      Reply
  28. Fem Castles

    Hi Alison
    Thanks for a fantastic website – I just love all your ideas and insights.
    I am a teacher in a small school. I teach Prep/1/2 and we’ve been doing synthetic phonics since term 4 last year. I’ve already noticed a HUGE improvement in my students’ reading and spelling ability which is starting to be transferred into their writing (yay!).
    We have the dandelion launchers books in our school and I have just purchased the Little Learners Love Literacy books too – we also have ‘the other’ type of books but they really don’t come off the shelf much. Haha! I only really use them with the children who have ‘got’ reading and are fluent. At this stage that is 2 students out of 16. I would love more decodable readers but our budget has only stretched to the L.L.L.L ones this year. We will save up for some more for 2019 or use the free SPELD readers.
    My question is….my principal is keen for me to do running records. As in the PM Reader Running Records. I am 100% sure of where each of my students is reading. They are doing so well but if I do a Running Record on them their learning won’t be reflected accurately. Do you know of an alternative to traditional Running Records I can use? Or should I be showing what phonics stage they are up to (e.g. CVC, consonant digraphs, digraphs, diphthongs etc).
    I hope this makes sense. Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Regards,
    Fem Castles

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Fem, thanks for the nice feedback, glad to hear you find my website helpful and your students are doing so well. Wonderful. Do you know why your Principal is keen for you to spend ages administering an assessment tool that is based on the discredited Whole Language approach, which gives credit for using the habits of weak readers (looking at picture and guessing etc)? It is not standardised or very reliable as far as I know, the main thing people seem to like about it is that it’s familiar. The MOTIF CC2 administered online is free and quick and would be much more informative about what the kids’ word reading skills are (except I think it is only for ages six and over), or you could administer just about any other standardised word reading test and get a more clear and useful idea of who is having difficulties. I guess you are already referring kids who seem to have expressive or receptive language difficulties to your speech pathologist for a CELF assessment, and that’s how you figure out who’s having language comprehension problems rather than decoding problems? And if you don’t have $$ for a standardised assessment of phonemic awareness you can use the Rosner TAAS for free, see https://www.spelfabet.com.au/2013/02/free-phonological-awareness-test. Do you have the Single Word Spelling Test? That would also probably be useful and isn’t expensive. Could you propose alternative assessments that are consistent with current models of reading? Alison

      Reply
  29. jenelle

    Hello, my 8 yr old is a very strong reader, however is really struggling with her spelling. Where would I start? she can read and decode words well, just can’t get them onto paper.

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Jenelle, I’d love to be able to give you specific advice about your daughter, but without seeing her, that would not be at all professional, so it’s best to make an appointment with someone who is an expert in this area to get specific assessment and advice, e.g. to figure out what level of phonemic awareness she has, how well she reads real and nonsense words out of context, and to do a standardised spelling assessment and look at a sample of her work, to clarify what she knows and what patterns are missing from her system. If she is leaving sounds out of words, that requires a different approach to a child who is just using plausible but incorrect spelling choices. At age 8 it is usually “long” and “r-controlled” vowel spellings that are giving the most trouble, and there are good programs to teach these, but without first confirming that this really is her problem I would not like to suggest them, you might first need to get basic “short” vowels nailed down or getting all the sounds and spellings in consonant blends. Try the Learning Difficulties Australia Tutor Search, the SPELD in your state or the Speech Pathology Australia website (click on Find a Speech pathologist and then choose literacy as the area of interest) for people with relevant expertise. Good luck! Alison

      Reply
  30. Sharon Mesenich

    Hi Alison
    My 8 year old son has auditory processing difficulties and struggles with literacy.
    We were receiving help through the shine program through our school but it’s only eligible for grade 1 & 2. Leo is now in grade 3 and needs help with understanding sounds and words. I’m keen to go private. Can you recommend someone in Bentleigh or near here? That provides the same programs as you?

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Sharon,
      Sorry to hear your son is struggling and needs more help with understanding sounds and words. You should be able to find someone in your area who can work on explicit, systematic, synthetic phonics either via the Learning Difficulties Australia website’s Tutor Search function (https://www.ldaustralia.org/tutor-search.html, choose “basic reading skills” and “spelling”) or via Speech Pathology Australia’s Find a Speech Pathologist function (http://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/find, choose “literacy” as the area of practice). My friend Julie Liptak is in Brighton and works on literacy but I think she is quite booked up, but she might also be able to suggest local people with relevant expertise: http://julieliptak.com. Hope that helps! Alison

      Reply
  31. Kate

    Hi,
    Can we book a place in MSL camp in Melbourne for Jan 2019?
    My son will go into yr 6 and has finally a diagnosis of dyslexia.

    Reply
  32. Beth

    Alison,
    Our school has taken the jump into the world of decodable readers only in the early years. It’s an exciting time for change and although teachers have been challenged, they are all on board. We are using a PA screener tool to monitor progress but need a reading assessment system as the PM tool we have been using is no longer suitable. I realise it may be difficult for you to endorse a particular assessment but any recommendations you can offer to meet the systemic needs of a big school would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Beth, can you use the MOTIF CC2 to assess word reading skills? It’s free online, see https://www.motif.org.au/home/test/cc2, and best of all it writes its own reports (yay). Tests of reading comprehension cloud the issue of whether problems are with decoding or listening comprehension, so it’s good to assess these things separately, get your school speech pathologist to do a CELF test with any kids who seem to be struggling with listening comprehension. I also use the Test of Written Spelling, but in a school the Single Word Spelling test might be a good option as it doesn’t require you to keep buying test forms, and ties to spelling lists.

      Reply
  33. Nikki Davis

    Hi,

    I am the mother of a 9 year old with Dyslexia and working memory delays. She has had various assessments as a 5 year old and is about to have another language assessment.

    I started speech therapy with her at the age of 2 for articulation errors and she continued with that therapy until she was 6. She has also had occupational therapy and vision therapy.

    She is of normal intelligence.

    She goes to a reading group at her school that teaches Mini Lit and at her previous school they loosely taught literacy using Thrass, which is a system that her new speech therapist uses as a tool.

    I am a teachers aide at a special school and the teacher I work with has recommended your program.

    Can you please advise which of your resources I should start with?

    Reading and spelling is extreamly effortful for her and her brain fatigues within minutes.

    Thanks for your help.

    Nikki

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Sorry to take ages to reply, Nikki. I don’t think I can advise you on this as I don’t have enough information about your daughter, but can you use my low-frequency word spelling test to problem-solve this with her specialist reading teacher? If they are trained in Minilit they will know about phonemes and word structure and be able to make sense of it with you. https://www.spelfabet.com.au/2018/01/low-frequency-word-spelling-test. If your teacher advises something other than my workbooks to improve her spelling, then I would follow their advice, perhaps they also use the multilit spelling program?

      Reply
  34. feefee_trixabell

    Hi I have two little boys both have autism & learning delays one age 5 self taught reading I know a lot is by memory, my other little one age 7 nearly 8 really struggling reading dandelion launchers books at school. I can see it’s slowly starting to click with him. My question is would intruding this confuse my 7 year old more, & could it help me identify just how much my 5 year old is understanding the actual breaking down of words, as he has a amazing memory but I want to promote his comprehension also. As a parent always looking for ways I can help make their learning easier & fun but always apprehensive about throwing in more confusion & muddling with more confusion x

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi, I’m not sure I can advise you, given you have a couple of quite complex little fellows there, do you work with a speech pathologist who you can consult about this? I don’t think there is likely to be any harm in letting your five year old try out the Dandelion Launchers but I have known a couple of older siblings who very much objected to doing the same work as younger siblings, and then refused to do it themselves, so I’d approach this with caution. As someone who hasn’t met your boys, and on the other side of the world, I’m not the best person to answer this question, sorry. But I’m sure someone on one or both of your boys’ professional teams will be able to discuss it with you and provide helpful advice. Best wishes, Alison

      Reply
  35. Steve

    Hi,
    Do you offer advertising space on spelfabet.com.au?
    Do you offer article placement?

    How much would it cost for an article placement with a link to a leading gaming brand in the article, taking into account the 3 points below:
    1. We will get the content written. The content will be of excellent quality and will fit the topic/nature of spelfabet.com.au , all you will need is to publish it.
    2. The article is not marked as sponsored and will stay on the site permanently even if it rolls over into the archives.
    3. We will pay you via Paypal once the article is live.

    Thank you,
    Steve Marks
    Digital Content Zone
    http://digitalcontentzone.com

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Dear Steve, no, I don’t have ads on my website, as a professional it’s not really acceptable to do this, and if by “gaming” you mean gambling, those ads would be very unsuitable anyway. Best wishes, Alison.

      Reply
  36. Nikki

    Hi Alison,

    After speaking with one of the librarians at our local library (Korumburra) about books available for children with learning difficulties and dyslexia, the librarian has asked me to email the principal library to make a suggestion as apparently they have recently had some PD in regards to dyslexia.

    I was going to ask if the library might be able to purchase some sets of decodeable readers and wondered if it was ok with you if I used some of the suggestions on your website and mentioned your program and website?

    Kind Regards,

    Nikki Davis

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Nikki, good on you and OF COURSE! Feel free to use any of the information on my website to help encourage your local library to get decodable books. The Little Learners Love Literacy, Pocket Rockets, InitiaLit, Decodable Readers Australia and Rip Rap books are all Australian, and the Phonic Books (Alba, Totem, Magic Belt etc) are from the UK but in my experience great for strugglers who don’t want to read “babyish books”, as they have lots of wizards, adventures and monsters. Plus the Barrington Stoke books are great for older kids who have learnt most of the main spelling patterns but still struggle with fluency and aren’t keen to read for enjoyment, and the Sounds-Write, Flyleaf Emergent Reader and Phonics Bug books are also great for beginners. But those are just the ones I use a lot, there are many more on my list that I’d get if I had the funds. Good luck! Alison

      Reply
  37. Caroline Denning

    Hi Alison
    I’m a teacher (formerly RR, now MSL, still in school as LaST in NSW), and I really appreciate your insightful blog posts. I’ve started a company called Dyslexia Southern Sydney, and I frequently share your posts (hope you don’t mind).
    I’m hoping that you will give me permission to use your blog posts in PD at my school? I’m working hard to transform their mindset, but I need some back-up. Are you ok for me to use your blog posts and material to persuade my colleagues?
    Many thanks
    Caroline.

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Caroline, thanks for the nice feedback, and please feel free to share my posts and use my info in your PD sessions if it’s useful. I’m there cheering from the sidelines for anything that helps shift schools away from look-at-the-picture-and-guess, and memorise-this-list-of-HF-words! All the best, Alison

      Reply
  38. Steve

    Hi,
    Do you offer advertising space (or article placement) on spelfabet.com.au?
    If yes, what would the cost be?

    Regards,
    Steve Marks
    digitalcontentzone.com

    Reply
  39. helene duplessis

    hi .do you have special resources for esl learning ?
    I didn’t understand how to download 44 sounds …
    your lists are very useful
    have a nice day

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Helene, I don’t have specialist ESL resources, no, sorry. I have used my stuff with a lot of learners with limited English because I worked for a long time in a secondary school with a lot of refugee students who were struggling to learn how to read and write in English, often they had additional language and/or cognitive difficulties. You can get the 44 sounds booklet free from here: http://www.spelfabet.com.au/materials/44-sounds-200-spellings-2/

      Reply
  40. D m belhekar

    I m confused whether which rule is applied
    While pronouncing word “death” and “dean” . I m learning phonics with the help of your website. In first word its short e and second word its long e . How can we differentiate it .

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Everything makes much more sense if you first work from sounds to letters, not letters to sounds, so heading in the spelling direction not the reading direction. All sounds have more than one spelling, and the sound “e” as in “red” is sometimes written with the letters EA as in “I have read a book”. The sound “ee” as in “see” is also sometimes spelt EA, as in “sea”. As each sound is studied, groups of words with the target pattern are practised. You can then go back and work from the reading direction and notice that the spelling EA can represent a few sounds, as in sea, head, break, Sean, bream etc, but most commonly it is pronounced as in sea or head. My spelling lists allow you to look up a sound and find all its spellings, and look up a spelling to find all its sounds. The order of teaching depends on the program you’re using, a well-designed one will cover all the patterns and allow practice to mastery of each.

      Reply
  41. Penny

    Dear Alison,
    I wondered if you hold any information or research regarding the preference for Multi- Lit as a treatment for reading Disorders instead of the THRASS method of teaching reading. I am having trouble convincing a school that Multi- Lit is the preferred treatment (based on Centre for Effective Reading NSW recommendations). I wondered do you have any information or is there someone you suggest I could ask?
    Thank you for your help
    Kind regards
    Penny

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Penny, I think the Multilit website has links to all the research supporting its use: https://multilit.com/research. I’m sorry that right now I don’t have time to go through all the studies that are listed on the THRASS website, but I’m not aware of any that involved a randomised controlled design, perhaps you can ask someone in your networks with research expertise? Alison

      Reply
  42. Steve

    Hi,
    Do you offer advertising space/article placement on spelfabet.com.au?
    If so, how much would it cost for an article placement with a link to a games website in the article?

    We will get the content written. It will be fully original and of excellent quality, it will fit the nature of spelfabet.com.au, you will need just to publish it, if you like the text.
    Alternatively, you can write the content by yourself, if you like.

    We will pay you via Paypal (or credit card) once the article is live!

    How much would it cost?

    Regards,
    Steve Marks
    digitalcontentzone.com

    Reply
  43. Claire Gregg

    Dear Alison,

    Thank you so much! I’m sure you would have heard my story before, here is the summay: educated parents, language rich environment, Mem Fox ‘123 Read’, growing concern, child doesn’t remember magic words, what’s going on? ‘He will get it, boys develop later’, still no improvement. ‘Do you read to him?’, extra guided reading of PM readers, still no improvement, in fact a step backwards to wild guessing based on the first sound of the word.
    That’s when I started doing my own research and thankfully I came across your Facebook page early. We use your program and have engaged a tutor once a week plus little Learners Love Literacy decodable readers and major break throughs are happening! I struggle to understand why the settled science is not accepted and adopted in praxis. I admire your ability to maintain the ‘rage’! Thank you so much for giving an ordinary parent like me the launguage and insight to stand up to the prevailing pedagogy. I have been told many times that literacy at our local school uses ‘best practice’, and ‘is in accordance with research’ and that ‘pm readers are decodable’ but also the honest, ‘ I don’t know about that ask the literacy teacher….’

    How do you keep going? You are simply amazing!

    Thankyou

    Claire Gregg

    Regards
    Claire Gregg

    Reply
  44. Debbie Hepplewhite

    Hi Alison,

    I can’t find any reference to the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction on your site.

    Do you feel able to refer to it please as I would like to think it provides a wealth of information – including many references to your own excellent posts?

    Many thanks for considering this.

    Best wishes,

    Debbie

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Debbie, I couldn’t believe I left IFERI off my site, so sorry, I need to do an overhaul of it during our looming summer break as it’s getting out of date and has a lot of broken links and things I need to update. I didn’t realise how much work it would be to maintain a website or how busy I would become with clients. I’ll add the link to the research page now. Thanks for pointing that out and my apologies. Alison

      Reply
  45. Khan Hasssan

    Hi,

    I’m a long time reader.

    I’m writing to you because I’d love to contribute a guest post to your website.

    I’ve been brainstorming some topics and I think your readers would get a ton of value from them.
    I’ll make sure the piece is filled with information that can’t be found anywhere else. In exchange, all i expect is a backlink from within the main body of the article.

    Do let me know if you like this proposal and if I can begin sending you some topic ideas.

    Sincerely,
    Hassan K.

    Reply
  46. Debbie Hepplewhite

    Hi Alison – thank you so much.

    I’m totally sympathetic about the difficulty of keeping up with updates etc. It’s an impossible task so no criticism for me. Your site, broken links and all, is still a gem – invaluable.

    X

    Reply

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