Category: Education

Teaching the World to Read
by Richard R. Tryon


There are two stages with a set of books for each stage:

Stage 1 Stage 2

6 Learning to Write the Alphabet books 7 Activity Books
7 Readers 7 Readers
7 Tristan - a Cat stories 7 Santi the Ant stories
7 Teacher and Parent Guides (one for each step) 1 Teachers? Manual

The content and style of the Activity books have been designed to arouse learner interest through the presentation of letters and sounds and the easy progression through pure analytic phonics to words and phrases. Stage 1 is generally for 4?6 year olds, Stage 2 is generally for 6?12 year olds. Stories in the readers allow for active participation and re-inforcement because most can be acted out.

Each carefully graded step allows for learner success. Success at a task retains learner attention because it refuels the inherent motivation of wanting to learn. Pictures are carefully used to illustrate concepts and the situations described in the sentences and stories. However, great care has been taken to ensure that pictures are not used as a ?crutch? to replace real reading.


See-a-Sound is for beginning readers of all ages. The step-by-step approach will greatly benefit anyone wanting to learn to read English including those of any age with specific learning difficulties. Text can readily be adapted for any age group and for those learning English as a second language.

a) Children with Specific Learning Difficulties

Some ?hyperactive? children, and even some children who have ?minimal brain dysfunction? are also able to reason well enough to play chess. For such children a structured pure analytical approach to learning to read may well be an aid. Ten SEN children were able to work through four of the steps and enjoyed using them. (A teacher exchange ended the experiment.)
b) Immigrant Children

Children who are somewhat inarticulate and those who have a limited vocabulary, including new immigrants who have to learn what is to them a foreign language, will benefit from the gradual introduction of letters and the visual representation of sounds and pictures that closely match concepts in the text.

c) Foreign Students

See-a-Sound will help all foreigners to learn to read and speak English. Text can be adjusted to meet vocational and age requirements of learners.

These methods are very suited to the needs of Third World countries where the demand for learning English is considerable. The vocabulary used is simple and will meet different language and cultural experience requirements.

d) Deaf Children

See-a-Sound will certainly help deaf children. Many deaf children learn to play chess at an early age and it is possible that See-a-Sound?s structured approach to reading provides the help that deaf children require.

e) Adult Learners

The many advantages of the scheme for school children apply equally to adults learning to read. Adults will readily realise that restructuring their knowledge through See-a-Sound is a process that they can largely do for themselves with some guidance from a teacher or with the CD-Rom programme (in production).

A Certificate of Commendation for the first draft of See-a-Sound was awarded by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on behalf of the English Speaking Union.

This first draft for 6 ? 12 year olds was reviewed by an HM Chief Inspector. Attachment No. 2 is a copy of the Inspector?s Report. (The suggestion made for using audio-tapes with the books has been overtaken by the planned availability of a CD Rom version).

See-a-Sound was used in a junior school in Surrey. An extract from the teacher?s report reads: ?In the short time I have been using this scheme, I have been surprised and pleased by the speed with which the children have been able to read and to recognise ?difficult? and unusual vocabulary, which they approach with both skill and confidence. Teachers may at first find the vocabulary of the early readers unusual and rather restricted, due to the limited range of sounds used at that stage. The children, however, accept this happily and with amusement.? (The teacher?s letter in full is included as Attachment No. 1).


Standard references (Dean, Dewey, World Book Dictionary, Longman Pronunciation Dictionary and Kucera) were used for phoneme and grapheme lists.


It is probably true that there is not and may never be any reading scheme that will succeed with every learner, perhaps not even with every ?normal? learner. Children with physical defects (poor sight or defective hearing) or intermittent concentration, will always require special help. However, where sight and sound confusable letters are separated, and where letters, sounds and graphemes are introduced in a step-by-step process it is probable that more children, even those with some physical impairments, will find it easier to learn to read. Our experience in the past eleven years does bear this out.

Lillian G Malt
Quirral House
Surrey GU8 6QW
United Kingdon

Revised December 1995
Revised March 2002


Creber: Patrick J W ?Lost for Words? (Penguin) 1972

Crystal: Prof.David "The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language" (Cambridge University Press 1987)

C.S.U.L.B. California State University, Long Beach, 1980 and the Irlen Institute for Perceptual and Learning Disabilities

Dean: Dr Joan ?Reading, Writing and Talking? (A C Black) 1968

Doman: Glen ?Teach Your Baby to Read? (Jonathon Cape) 1965

Durking: Professor D ?Children who Read Early? (Teachers College Columbia U.)1966

Gesell: A ?The First Five Years of Life? ? 1940
?The Child from Five to Ten? ? 1946
Yale Clinic of Child Development (Harper & Row)

Kucera & Francis ?Computational Analysis of Present-Day American English? (Brown University) 1967

Logan: R K ?The Alphabet Effect? (Morrow) 1986

Levine: Dr Melvin ?Head Head Start?(NYT Sunday Edition) November 1975 (in an interview with Maya Pines)

McNeil: D ?The Acquisition of Language? (Harper & Row) 1970 (University of Chicago)

Melcher: M ?Johnny Still Can?t Read? (School Library Journal) 1974

Morris: Dr J M ?Language in Action Resource Book? (MacMillan) 1974Morris-Montessori Word List (Montessori Centre Ltd) 1990

Newsom Report ?Half our Future? (H.M.S.O.) 1964

Pitman : Sir James & ?Alphabets and Reading? (Pitmans) 1969
John St John

Protheroe: Pamela ?Vexed Texts?. How Children?s Picture Books Promote Illiteracy. (The Book Guild) 1993

Russell W Ritchie ?Explaining the Brain? (Oxford University Press) 1975
with Deward: A J

Salvendy: G D ?Prediction and Development of Industrial Work
Seymour: W D Performance? (John Wiley & Sons) 1973

Vernon: M D ?The Psychology of Perception? (Penguin) 1962

Wells: Prof J C ?Pronunciation Dictionary? (Longmans) 1991
World Book Dictionary Doubleday & Co Inc and Field Enterprises Ed. Corp.1967




In Southern British English an analysis of the frequency of vowels and consonants in
conversation produced the following totals (after Fry, D. B. 1947). Since this time, the 10.74% use of the schwa has increased.



The See-a-Sound Reading Scheme

I have been using the See-a-Sound Reading Scheme for two terms in an experimental capacity, and have been most impressed both by the rapid progress of the children and by their obvious enjoyment and enthusiasm.

The scheme is completely phonetic in concept and has been meticulously structured on this basis. Much detailed research has been carried out in order to put into practice sound educational ideas and to ensure that strict adherence to them should be observed. In order to help the teacher a comprehensive kit is provided.

The scheme consists of a well planned programme in which the children are gradually introduced to the sounds and combinations of sounds which form the basis of all reading. For example, in the first book, seven consonants, three vowels, four capital letters and two punctuation signs are introduced. In the early stages, each reading book is preceded by a workbook for the children?s own use. There is also provided a ?tool kit? which is used in conjunction with the workbook and which consists of pictures, word and letter activities. These the children have to select for themselves from a workbook. This involves much effort and thought on the children?s part, although all the same, it is regarded as a game by them.

In addition, word building activities are included in the workbooks and form a valuable aid to reading and fluency. As the See-a-Sound Reading Scheme has been so well developed, it will be found to be of value to children of varying abilities and especially to children with reading problems.

In the short time I have been using this scheme, I have been surprised and pleased by the speed with which the children have been able to read and to recognise ?difficult? and unusual vocabulary, which they approach with both skill and confidence. Teachers may at first find the vocabulary of the early readers unusual and rather restricted, due to the limited range of sounds used at that stage. The children however, accept this happily and with amusement.

Finally, as a teacher, I found this scheme very enjoyable to use, mainly, I think, because the programme has been so skilfully structured that my work load was considerably diminished.

Deputy Head
County First School


Mrs Malt came to see me to demonstrate and talk about the reading scheme she had developed earlier this week. She showed me how it would be introduced and the build up of phonic material, together with workbooks and story books and the text of others, and I think made it possible for me to get a fairly clear idea of how the scheme might operate in practice.

I found this scheme a very interesting one. I was particularly impressed by the systematic build-up of phonic material and by the fact that it is possible to teach a very small amount at a time and yet to provide quite a range of reading material at that level. Indeed, the teacher can, with any group of children, develop reading material which is entirely within their compass at any given stage. I also think that the technique she suggests for introducing the material a good one and has possibilities.

Nevertheless, the scheme has problems for a publisher, since it is the teachers and not the children who buy any scheme and a scheme which looks radically different from other schemes, tends not to be attractive to them. The problem really is that when you work within a very limited phonic range, the written sentences sound stilted and while, in my view, this is acceptable, since it is a means of acquiring a range of phonic skills, this is not likely to be the opinion of teachers, unless the scheme is well presented and has some things which make it look like other schemes and perhaps some other aspects which might attract them. *1

With this in mind, I have suggested to Mrs Malt that one possible way of approaching this problem is to concentrate on making this scheme one which children could use with tape, with very little help from the teacher *2. There is a real need for a learner oriented scheme, which could be used with beginning readers working independently. If Mrs Malt were to use pictures within the work book as the material for the early talking, together with stick on letters of a larger size than the ones she has already, and to put all the talking that she does on to tape, I can see that we could quickly build up a very effective scheme and get the benefit for the phonic build-up. I have suggested to her that she should try this with children and see how it works out. Certainly I think it might be attractive to a lot of teachers in this form. Many accept the need to do quite a lot of work in teaching phonics but children vary very greatly in their ability to acquire phonic skills and it is very difficult to give some children enough practice. Good material which is systematic and clear which could be used with tape could be very welcome in this context. I also think that it would be worth making the point that this is not a reading scheme in the sense that ?Through the Rainbow? or ?Link-up? is a reading scheme. It is a scheme for teaching the phonic skills and building on from them, as such, could be used in parallel with other schemes that complement them.

I certainly think there is much good thinking here which has a contribution to make.

Signed by: The Chief Inspector
Surrey County Council
Education Department
County Hall
Kingston upon Thames KT1 2DJ 6th January 1977
1. The language and style of the text has been completely revised in the light of these comments.
2. This suggestion was made before the advent of CD Roms.





Months Gained No of Children

BLUE Ages 4 1/2 - 6
3 mths 1
6 mths 2
9 mths 3
12 mths 1
15 mths 3
18 mths 2
21 mths 3
24 mths 1
27 mths
30 mths

GREEN Ages 6 - 8
3 mths 2
6 mths 7
9 mths 3
12 mths 2
15 mths
18 mths 1
21 mths
24 mths
27 mths
30 mths

RED Ages 8 - 10
3 mths
6 mths 3
9 mths 1
12 mths 2
15 mths 2
18 mths 3
21 mths 1
24 mths 2
27 mths
30 mths

GOLD Ages 10 - 12
3 mths
6 mths 1
9 mths 1
12 mths 1
15 mths 5
18 mths 2
21 mths 1
24 mths 1
27 mths 1
30 mths 1






3 Week

Girl 7 y 3 m 8 y 6 m 9 y 3 m 10 y 3 m 10 y 9 m 11 y 3 m 10y 0 m 48 m 15 m 33 m
Girl 8 y 9 m 9 y 9 m 10 y 3 m 11 y 0m 9 y 11 m 27 m 6 m 21 m
Boy 12 y 9 m 13 y 9m 13 y 9 m End Score 9 y 11 m 15+ m 0 m 15+ m
Boy 7 y 3 m 8y 0 m 8 y 6 m 9 y 0 m 9 y 3 m 10 y 6 m 9 y 0 m 39 m 9 m 30 m
Boy 6 y 6 m 8 y 0 m 8 y 3 m 9 y 9 m 9 y 0 m 39 m 3 m 36 m
Boy 7 y 3 m 8 y 3 m 8 y 3 m 9 y 9 m 9 y 0 m 10 y 6 m 8 y 4 m 39 m (-9 m) 48 m
Boy 5 y 3 m 5 y 6 m 7 y 9 m 8 y 3 m 8 y 0 m 36 m 27 m 9 m
Boy 7 y 0 m 8 y 3 m 9 y 3 m 10 y 3 m 9 y 9 m 11 y 6 m 7 y 11 m 54 m 6 m 48 m
Boy 6 y 9 m 7 y 6 m 8 y 6 m 9 y 0 m 8 y 10 m 27 m 12 m 15 m
Boy 7y 3 m 8 y 0 m 8 y 6 m 9 y 9 m 7 y 10 m 30 m 6 m 24 m
Girl 5 y 3 m 6 y 9 m 7 y 9 m 8 y 6 m 10 y 0 m 11 y 6 m 7 y 9 m 75 m 30 m 45 m
Boy 5 y 3 m 7 y 6 m 7 y 9 m 8 y 6 m 7 y 3 m 39 m 3 m 36 m
Boy 5 y 6 m 5 y 6 m 8 y 0 m 8y 6 m 6 y 7 m 36 m 30 m 6 m
Boy - 5 y 0 m 5 y 6 m 6 y 9 m 6 y 4 m 21 m 6 m 15 m
Girl - 5 y 0 m - 6 y 9 m 5 y 6 m 21 m 0 m 21 m
Girl - 5 y 3 m 6 y 9 m 7 y 3 m 5 y 8 m 27 m 18 m 9 m
y = years m = months The 16 pupils who attended at See-a-Sound 2000, 2001 had an average reading improvement of 10.8 months per year
S-a-S = See-a-Sound The 5 Pupils attending at See-a-Sound 1999, 2000 & 2001 had an average reading improvement

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