The Difference

A Clear Difference

What is the difference in our approach?

We hesitate to present the following information because it tends to overwhelm and intimidate some. But even very young students can easily learn all of the rules and sounds below in small, logical, sequential steps.

Any good teacher can teach reading effectively once these concepts are placed in a usable format. At Academic Associates we have a remarkable record of success in teaching students of all ages to read.

Most phonics programs include the basic sounds and one or two alternate sounds for some letters, diphthongs and phonemes. Of course, our program also includes those basic sounds. They are not listed below.

The following elements are largely omitted from nearly every phonics course. You will know some of them, but there may be some whose existence you never even suspected. And until you see how they work, it’s difficult to imagine how extremely important they are.

  1. Our course typically takes only 30-50 hours to complete. In that time, students raise their reading level to at least their school-age appropriate level. Other courses may require as long as a year or more.
  2. What are the nine sounds of A? Most phonics programs teach only two or three. All nine are essential.
  3. What are the six sounds of E? Most phonics programs teach only two.
  4. What are the five sounds of I?
  5. What are the five sounds of O?
  6. What are the five sounds of U?
  7. What are the six sounds of Y?
  8. What are the five sounds of IE and EI?
  9. Why the old spelling axiom, “I before e, except after c…” is inaccurate and misleading.
  10. What rule dictates when Y will always copy the sound of long I?
  11. What rule dictates when Y is almost always silent?
  12. What rule dictates when Y will almost always copy the sound of long E?
  13. Why is the silent W in words such as low and glow?
  14. Why is a silent D in words such as ledge and judge?
  15. Why is a silent U in words such as guess and guitar?
  16. How many vowels can copy the sound of short U? And why is this so important?
  17. When and why does the suffix ED make each of its three distinct sounds?
  18. What rule determines when C will copy the sound of S and when it will copy the sound of K? This important rule affects about 250,000 words.
  19. What rule determines when G will copy the sound of J and when it will make its own sound?
  20. What rules determine when S will make its own sound and when it will copy the sound of another letter?
  21. What are the six sounds of OO? Only nine OO words make a sound other than the two main sounds of OO.
  22. What are the 25 OUGH words? That’s all there are. But OUGH makes six sounds.
  23. What are the fourteen AUGH words? That’s all there are, and anyone can learn them in a few minutes.
  24. What are the ten ways to spell the sound of OO, as in boot?
  25. What are the 13 ways to spell the sound of shun?
  26. What are the six ways to spell the sound of SH, and why is it crucial that students learn every one of them?

Please remember that these sounds are in addition to the basic sounds taught in other courses. Each of the above-mentioned sounds and rules is easily learned by every student as we progress through the course. Our Rule Cards and Reading Lists, plus continuous review assure that every student learns to read.

After considering all these sounds, some will say, “I learned to read without knowing all those rules and things, and so did a lot of other people. Why should we be concerned with them?” The answer is that the students who didn’t learn to read well will never learn to read well without knowing these things.

The reason they didn’t learn to read by the whole-word method, or typical “phonics” method is because of the differences in the way human brains process incoming data. About 85% of males and 15% of females process written data by a system that is largely incompatible with the aforementioned methods.

The typical male, and some females do not learn reading or much of anything else from inference. They must be told plainly and directly exactly which letters make which sounds under what circumstances. In an only partially facetious example, if you tell a male that a trash can is overflowing, he will assume you think the trash can is an interesting topic of conversation, when you were actually asking him to empty the can.

The reason males comprise 80% of poor readers is that they were never told in concrete terms the rules for decoding words. Unfortunately, almost no one knows these simple rules any more—not even textbook publishers.

But when students learn to read by a logical, sequential method that teaches them rules they can follow, and exceptions to some of the rules that also make sense, they quickly and painlessly learn to read. There is no significant difference in the abilities of males and females when taught by the Academic Associates method.

© 1997 by Cliff Ponder. No part of this material may be reproduced without prior written permission.