Stanford brain wave study shows best way to read

A recent Stanford study of brain activity during the reading process has shown that letter-to-sound phonics processing is the best way to learn how to read. By comparison, a whole word sight-memorization strategy leads children down the wrong path.

We couldn’t agree more! This has been the foundation of our Easyread program for a decade and we continue to teach letter/sound matching through our Trainertext method to children all around the world.

Here is a fascinating excerpt that shows the linkage between poor reading skills and whole word sight-reading.

“Words learned through the letter-sound instruction elicited neural activity biased toward the left side of the brain, which encompasses visual and language regions. In contrast, words learned via whole-word association showed activity biased toward right hemisphere processing.

McCandliss noted that this strong left hemisphere engagement during early word recognition is a hallmark of skilled readers, and is characteristically lacking in children and adults who are struggling with reading.”

For the full article, read here:

DSCN0462Sarah Forrest is Programme Manager of the Easyread System, an online program for struggling readers and spellers, children with dyslexia, and beginner readers. Find out more at

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Excellent improvements

Charlie received his prize yesterday. The first for a long time, however it still meant a lot to him. He has grown up a lot since we started with your system, he no longer thinks that David is personally listening in on every lesson!! For a long time he rejected the lessons, but has come back and is motivated to do them. The short games hold his attention and are active enough to keep him sitting down rather than jumping up to attend to something that catches his eye.

This is a quick note to thank you for holding this account open for him and the changes you have made to the overall system, I really appreciate being able to see his grades and history and am working my way through the training videos. These are excellent improvements, well done.

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Much improved reading!

Had a meeting with Alex’s teacher and SpLd tutor recently. They are very pleased with his much improved reading but concerned about his spelling. I advised them again that we are using EasyRead and on this occasion it was actually recorded. I told them that I couldn’t praise EasyRead enough, so hopefully, they may look into using you for other children who have problems.

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Famous Dyslexics: Youngest pilot to fly solo around the world

This young man may not be a household name (yet!), but he’s already in the record books. Captain James Anthony Tan is the youngest pilot – and first Malaysian – to fly solo around the world.

And he has experienced reading difficulties throughout his young life, leading to a dyslexia diagnosis.


When he was 21, he embarked on his expedition in a 30-year-old Cessna plane. He encountered severe thunderstorms when flying near Japan, had to use a screwdriver to break ice forming in his plane over the Bearing Straits, and almost lost control of the plan over Canada when multiple plane parts began to malfunction.

But in the end, he triumphed. During his mission, he covered 22,000 miles and 21 countries in just 50 days.

Despite not learning to read until age 9, Captain Tan has gone on to other entrepreneurial ventures in Malaysia, starting several of his own businesses.

And to whom does he credit his success? Well, growing up in a household of women with 3 older sisters, Tan once remarked in an interview:

“Mahatma Gandhi once said that women are the embodiment of sacrifice, and I believe this to be absolutely true!”

DSCN0462Sarah Forrest is a Programme Manager for the Easyread System, an online course for children struggling with reading, spelling, dyslexia, auditory processing and more.


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Overlearning Key Vocabulary: How many words do you know?

Words are so often the symbols with which we understand and communicate with the world around us – especially in the realm of education. Teaching key terms for different topics explicitly is by no means new and yet I have seen plenty of students sitting in English GCSE and A-level classrooms who don’t know their ‘character’ from ‘characterisation’, let alone their ‘narrator’ from their ‘narrative’. These words may initially seem difficult, but UK school children are meant to know and be able to apply them by the time they reach 11-years-old.

British linguist David Crystal states that most adults would know around 50,000 words easily, if not 75,000.  To find out the size of your vocabulary, he suggests, “taking a sample of about 20 or 30 pages from a medium-sized dictionary, one which contains about 100,000 entries or 1,000 to 1,500 pages. Tick off the ones you know and count them. Then multiply that by the number of pages and you will discover how many words you know. Most people vastly underestimate their total.” But how do we learn them in the first place? Our family talking to us from a young age, experiencing new and varied situations in which to learn plus apply new words and formal teaching are some of the main ways. But how can we help the process along in relation to new subject-specific vocabulary?

The Oxford NHS advice on word-finding explains the abstract nature of words without context, especially in a new sphere of knowledge. They outline how new and abstract vocabulary need to be reinforced via everyday contextual situations amidst formal teaching, e.g. when and where a particular emotion has occurred in the playground.  Alongside key word tests, dictionary use and ‘key word’ zones or walls, other strategies include creating mind maps, word trees using written words as well as pictures, and word maps – all linking old and new vocabulary together (see links below for further information). Using dramatic gestures linked to meaning has also been a key technique at primary level.

There is no doubt that overlearning new vocabulary by linking it to prior knowledge and vocabulary can be key to children’s success in literacy and gaining access to higher education. Just as importantly, it also opens up a potentially richer experience of adulthood – emotional literacy, accessing of the arts and more freedom of choice being just a few examples.

Useful links:

rachel headshotRachel Wallace is a former English teacher and KS3/4 Leader. Easyread is an online intervention for children with reading difficulties, dyslexia, auditory processing problems and more.

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