Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Read
How was the
How does the
How Effective Is the Program for Remedial
How does Phono-Graphix® differ from
traditional phonics programs?
What Qualifications are Needed to Become Certified
Who Certifies the Phono-Graphix®
can I tell how my child doing?
What are the signs that a child is developing a
my child "grow into" reading?
What can I do to help my child if he/she is having a
reading problem in school?
What is phonemic awareness and why is it important?
Q. Who is Read America?
is a company founded by Carmen and Geoffrey McGuinness who developed the
Phono-Graphix® program. The initial research on Phono-Graphix® was
conducted by Carmen McGuinness the Read America Clinic in Orlando, Florida
and published in a 1996 issue of the Orton Annals of Dyslexia.
The study showed that, regardless of reading-related disability, the
average gains for the children in the study using the Phono-Graphix®
method were 1.5 years on the Woodcock Reading Mastery test for reading
real words after only 12 one-hour clinical sessions plus related homework.
Q. How was the Phono-Graphix®
was formulated in 1996 after extensive research by cognitive psychologist
Diane McGuinness, Ph. D., at University of South Florida. The actual
program was developed after studying the underlying causes of reading
failure and validated in work done at the Read America Clinic in Orlando,
Q. How does the Phono-Graphix®
taught the letters and letter combinations that represent sounds we use to
speak. There are about 150 of these to remember.
written characters or groups of characters are called Sound pictures or
The child is then taught how to break down words into the individual sound
pictures, then sound them out individually.
The child is taught to join
those sounds together, when the combination of sounds is recognized the
word is successfully read.
This is how
we all read, we just don't realize that we use this method we do it so
well and so quickly.
But when faced with words
in a foreign language or words we have never seen before, we immediately
slow down and adopt this Phono-Graphix®
method of reading. In fact we are automatically decoding whole words
into small sound pictures, combining those sounds in our memory.
is a particularly suitable method for children who have problems with
memory. It takes what the child already knows - the sounds of the
and teaches in careful stages the ‘sound pictures’ that represent those
sounds. These ‘sound pictures’ are the least amount of information
in order to break down and read any word.
Is the Program for Remedial Purposes?
The most complete
report so far is the 1996 Annals study. In that study, 87 students
aged 6 to 16 years with reading and/or spelling difficulties received
an average 12 hours of one-on-one training, (one hour per week.) This
was supplemented by one hour of homework each week. Students gained an
average of 13.7 standard score points on word recognition (1.70 points
per clinical hour) and 19.34 standard score points on nonsense word
decoding (2.57 points per clinical hour).
Data from the Read
America Clinic also illustrates high gains in a remedial setting in
phonological awareness, code knowledge, word attack skills, word
identification, and spelling. At the Read America Clinic, additional
time is spent on applying code knowledge to spelling and written
language, and to help the student build contextual fluency.
Q. How does Phono-Graphix® differ from traditional phonics
is the antithesis of traditional methods of reading instruction, which
teach students symbols (letters) and the corresponding sounds and
emphasize spelling rules and memorization. Phono-Graphix®
operates in reverse, building off of what students already know about
sounds and speech.
Q. What Qualifications are Needed to Become Certified Phono-Graphic®
offered to all individuals with a suitable background. This includes
teachers, remedial reading specialists, clinicians, speech and language
therapists, and tutors with suitable educational backgrounds.
Q. Who Certifies
certifies all the Phono-Graphic®
Q. How can I tell
how my child doing?
at 4 years
old, your child should know the basic code and begin to read and spell
three-sound words accurately
at 5 years
old, your child should be able to read any three-sound word and begin to
read and spell words that contain adjacent consonants.
at 6 years
old, your child should know the advanced written code with an accuracy
rate of 70%, read and spell single syllable words with few errors, and
read aloud to a parent for ten to fifteen minutes each day.
at 7 years
old, the child should know the advanced written code with an accuracy
rate of 90%, read single syllable words without error and two-syllable
words with few errors. One to two short books should be read aloud by
the child every week at this age.
Q. What are the signs that a child is developing a "reading problem"?
Signs that a child has
reading problems include:
1) Guessing at words
rather than decoding (sounding them out) with automaticity and fluency;
2) Memorizing printed
text after hearing it read aloud many times and then "pretending to read"
3) Attempting to
memorize every word with frequent seeming lapses in memory;
4) Reading (both
silently and orally) in a slow and labored style which interferes with
5) Avoidance of any
task which requires reading;
6) Poor or
non-existent understanding (comprehension) of written material; and/or
7) Referral to Reading
Recovery, Title 1, or special education.
whose reading instruction has occurred in a classroom where the "whole
language" philosophy has been used will demonstrate many or all of the
above problems consistent with the lack of systematic, explicit
instruction in phonemic awareness (the ability to hear and manipulate the
sounds of the English language) and phonics (the ability to use the
forty-plus sound-spelling correspondences to independently decode (sound
out words). Even children who have been exposed to phonics using an
ineffective or incomplete program will exhibit these symptoms. Do not
assume that your child has "had" phonics if you've used Hooked on Phonics
or The Phonics Game. Do not assume your child has "had" phonics if he
knows the letters of the alphabet and their sounds. Do not assume your
child has "had" phonics if the teacher tells you she is using a balanced
program and integrating phonics into her whole language instruction.
Children must master all 40+ sound-spelling correspondences to have "had"
phonics. They must have had ample practice reading completely decodable
text (text that contains words that can be sounded out from what the
children has learned); predictable books with words that cannot be
independently decoded by the child don't count.
Q. Will my child "grow into"
not a natural act like walking and talking. Some children are able to
figure out the reading process on their own by virtue of strong inherited
phonemic awareness skills (the abilities to hear and manipulate the sounds
of language) and/or a print-rich environment filled with constant reading
aloud. But these children are in the minority. Most children need some
instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics to become skilled readers
and many more children need a very systematic and explicit program of
instruction that begins in kindergarten and continues into first and
second grade. Many children will need one-to-one instruction to help them
develop phonemic awareness and to learn phonics. Without this intense
early instruction, they will find themselves in remedial reading which
unfortunately is no guarantee of reading success. A child who is a poor
reader in first grade has a strong likelihood of being a poor reader in
fourth grade. Prevention rather than remediation is the best plan.
Q. What can I do to help my child if he/she is having a reading problem in
Educate yourself on
reading and the instructional process. Purchase Reading Reflex by
Carmen and Geoffrey McGuinness at
Amazon.com or visit their website
www.readamerica.net. This parent manual which is also suitable for use
by tutors and school teachers is a good place to begin. The book contains
short diagnostic tests to determine where to begin with your child and a
step-by-step process to teach both children and adults how to decode.
offers pure training in phonemic awareness, phoneme segmenting, and
blending. The program eliminates letter names, all exercises or language
that conflict with the logic of the code, or that add an unnecessary
memory load. It teaches the 43 phonemes of the English Alphabet code as
represented by approximately 100 letters or letter combinations. There are
three levels: Level 1 teaches the basic code (i. e. the correspondence of
one sound to one letter with no digraphs). Skills training covers phoneme
analysis, segmenting, blending, reading, and spelling. These skills are
mastered in simple three-sound words and words containing consonant
clusters. Level 2 is the advanced code level and includes consonant and
vowel digraphs followed by phonemes with multiple spellings (i.e. one
sound to many letters) as well as code overlaps (i.e. the 21 vowel letter
patterns that overlap more than one word sound: the letters ou stand for
five phonemes). Level 3 teaches multisyllable words up to five syllables
and students are taught to build words by syllable and to decode by
syllable. The curriculum materials are hands-on. Phono-Graphix®
was developed to teach every important skill necessary to read, write, and
spell, and to teach them as rapidly as possible. Although the methodology
was developed in the Read America Clinic in Orlando, FL for use by
individuals (both adults and children) who had not had success in learning
to read in school, the system has been adapted for use with small groups
in the school setting. In one first grade classroom a teacher who had been
trained in the Phono-Graphix®
method implemented the program four to five days per week in groups of
four to nine students ages six through ten years (McGuinness et. al.,
1996). During the treatment period (8 months) the students received no
formal reading instruction in the classroom but rather engaged in
sustained silent reading and other language arts activities. Pre and
post-tests were administered including the Woodcock Reading Mastery word
identification sub-test and word attack sub-test, a blending test, a
segmenting test, the phonemes manipulation test and the code knowledge
test. The average pre-test score on the word attack sub-test of the
Woodcock was first grade-seventh month. The average post-test score on the
word attack was seventh grade-second month, reflecting an average gain of
over five years. The lack of a control group and the disturbing absence of
any kind of comprehension strategy building activities in the regular
classroom during the treatment period, notwithstanding, the preliminary
testing results are promising. More research is definitely needed but when
phonemic awareness and fluent decoding of authentic text are what you want
to teach (and they should definitely be a priority goal in kindergarten
and first grade), this program is well-worth a closer look.
What is phonemic awareness and why is it important?
Phonemic awareness is
the ability to segment the sounds contained in words and blend isolated
sounds together to form words. For example, a child who has learned this
skill understands that the word "dog" is made from three separate speech
sounds: "d","o (aw)", and "g". They also understand that it is the
sequence of these sounds that create meaningful words and sentences.
Because speech sounds represent the printed form, literacy is dependant
upon mastering phonemic awareness.
addresses the true nature of the English language code:
- Letters are pictures
- Sound pictures can
be one or more letters
- There is variation
in the code (boat, toe, grow - all sound the same but are different
- There is overlap in
the code: some pictures are used for more than one sound (cow, grow)
phonemic awareness skills
needed to use the code:
- Segmenting -
identify individual sounds in words
- Blending - push
sounds together to form a word
- Phoneme Manipulation
- move sounds in and out of words
independent member of the Phono-Graphix® Association of Reading
Therapists, I am pleased to be able to offer this program. Because it is
so child-friendly, Phono-Graphix® may be used with anyone age 4 or above.
For more detailed information call us at OpenBook.