Language Builders Lab

In order to succeed in reading English, every learner needs to master two foundational skills: 1) recognize the basic phonograms used in English and 2) apply the rules that govern the use of those phonograms in spelling English words.

Phonogram: a single letter or fixed combination of letters that symbolize a sound of speech. The English alphabet has 26 letters, and the English language has 45 sounds. Written English uses 70 basic phonograms to represent the 45 sounds of English.

Note: Any references to “English” on this site refer to American English.

In my Language Builders Labs, I use the Spell to Write and Read program to build up each learner’s ability in these foundational skills. Spell to Write and Read is an efficient, effective, and precise system for training a learner’s brain for reading and writing. It works for learners of all ages, levels, abilities, and learning styles.

In the Spell to Write and Read program, each student learns phonograms and spelling rules, and then practices applying that knowledge to dictated spelling words. Through this process, their brain is trained to apply this information to reading English texts at an increasing level of difficulty.

The beauty of Spell to Write and Read is that all students–regardless of age, learning style, or ability–can learn the 98 cards that hold the secret to unlock the English language. The method is organized so that the students use only paper, pencil, and their hands and minds. Because they are engaged mentally and physically, all students find this method instructive and interesting.

It is a great joy and delight to see each student rise to the challenge of this explicit method of learning these 98 “keys” that unlock English literacy.

Expected Learning Outcomes

I have divided each academic year into four 10-week learning cycles (learners typically take one 90-minute session per week). New students who attend all 4 learning cycles in a year log 60 hours of instruction and are trained in:

  • correct formation of all 26 letters of the English alphabet.
  • fluent recognition of the 70 basic phonograms used in American English.
  • accurate knowledge of the 28 basic spelling rules of American English
  • confident spelling, reading, and use of ~540 common words (these account for 60% of all the words we read and write).

After 60 instruction hours, a learner is able to read and spell at (or above!) a 2nd grade reading level! And it just gets better from there:

  • 120 hours of instruction (2 years) equips them to read and spell at (or above) a 4th grade reading level.
  • 180 hours of instruction (3 years) equips them to read and spell at (or above) a 7th grade reading level.
  • 240 hours of instruction equips (4 years) them to read and spell at (or above) a 10th grade reading level.

And, a student who logs at least 300 hours of training (5 years) in the program is equipped to read and spell at the level of a freshman in college!

An investment of 4-5 years (maximum) will yield a lifetime of success!

(Note: These estimates are based on attending one training session per week. Obviously, if a learner comes more frequently, they can log more hours of instruction per year and advance their skill level more quickly.)

“Reading is thinking, guided by print.”

–Dr. Alan Seaman, Wheaton Graduate School