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Guided Phonetic Reading

Particularly effective with very visual children, Guided Phonetic Reading teaches reading and spelling in English as a skill to be learned through practice, rather than as a set of rules. The daily decoding practice is made easy through the use of images for each sound.

What is it?

Guided Phonetic Reading (GPR) is a new approach, developed in the early years of the 21st century. It includes elements of Whole Word and Synthetic Phonics theories, but is a fundamentally different approach to either of the old systems, which have been in use since the 18th century.

The basis to Guided Phonetic Reading is the principle that:

"You must read English through a rapid decoding ability, and
that is most easily developed as a skill through regular practice,
not through any attempt to teach the 'rules' of English spelling."

The reason for seeing English-language literacy as a skill is that English spelling is very irregular. There are over 100 letter patterns to represent our 46 sounds, in over 450 letter-pattern-to-sound relationships. So there is massive inconsistency. If you teach a "rule" it will soon prove to have exceptions. But the good news is that the brain can deal with massive complexity in the subconscious mind, if it gets enough practice at it.

So Guided Phonetic Reading helps the child learn to read by reading, which is a central element of all Whole Word methods. But the focus in the reading practice is on decoding, which is central to Synthetic Phonics.

What sets GPR apart is how you help the learner decode.

How does it work?

GPR uses visual images above the text to spell out the word phonetically. By creating a different image to represent each sound in English, you have 46 visual images that are easy to recognize as they float over each grapheme. The learner can now decode any word without outside help. For instance, you would think that the word 'was' should rhyme with 'gas'. Unfortunately it doesn't! In GPR, the image over the 'a' in 'was' will actually be the same image that would appear over the 'o' on 'hot'. And the image over the 's' will be the same image that would appear over the 'zz' in 'buzz'.


So the learner now has a phonetic code linked to the actual letters that helps them read out any word correctly. We call this Trainertext.

The routine of spending 10-15 minutes each day successfully decoding text with the help of the images, builds the experience needed for the subconscious brain to recognize all the different patterns in words confidently. Initially it is a slow process, but as the rapid pattern recognition cortex in the brain builds a mapping of all the grapheme-phoneme relationships, it eventually becomes so fast that you cannot even feel the decode process happening. Interestingly, the brain is so sophisticated that it can even decode words that have been jumbled up. Here is an exmalpe of a snetnece wirtetn with jmulbed up wrods wihch you can probbaly raed amlsot as qiukcly as nroaml txet.

Good comprehension is more easily achieved through the decoding process (as opposed to the sight-reading process), because the linguistic cortex, which manages comprehension, is tied into the auditory cortex. So GPR methods have a strong outcome for building good comprehension abilities.

And the basis of all good spelling is in having a good decoding strategy to your reading. Sight word readers may be able to pass a spelling test by revising the list of words the night before, but their spelling in free writing is always atrocious.

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