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Teach yourself to type
Read and Spell blog
Teach yourself to type

Teach yourself to type

Most adult learning programs and libraries offer basic skills computer courses, but is it possible to learn how to touch type on your own? Of course. If you have access to a computer, there are plenty of self-study programs that can help you get started. 

One of the first things you need to learn is the home-row position on the keyboard – also known as the home keys.

3 Spelling mistakes that are easy to make
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3 Spelling mistakes that are easy to make

3 Spelling mistakes that are easy to make

Not everyone finds spelling easy. Children and adults, native and non-native speakers, and individuals with and without learning difficulties alike can all struggle with the irregularity of spelling in English.

That’s because more than one letter or letter combination can be used to represent a sound. An f is used in fire-truck but ph is used in phone. Similarly, the same letter(s) can represent different sounds. The pronunciation of c in face is soft but the c in car is hard. The initial sound in kick is k, but the same sound is spelled with a ck at the end of the word.

This program is working great. We are using it for our 6 year old and he is enjoying it. He wants to "do my typing" each day. Our 4 year old daughter watches with keen interest. The way it is designed really does include reading and spelling and not just typing.

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TTRS typing
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TTRS typing - how is it different from other typing programs?

TTRS typing - how is it different from other typing programs?

TTRS stands for Touch-type Read and Spell and is different from traditional typing programs in a few ways. For one, the words in TTRS lessons are whole words instead of nonsense key combinations. In this way, you can learn to spell as you learn to type.

More importantly, the words on screen are accompanied by audio which teaches you to connect letters to sounds. This is important for learning to read, as well as to spell. TTRS also follows a carefully structured curriculum of English phonics, so typing drills build automaticity in reading, as you progress through the course.

Typing is a great way to practice spelling words
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Typing spelling words

Typing spelling words

There are many ways to practice a list of spelling words, from making flash cards, to using oral recitation, or just plain writing the words out by hand. Yet one of the most effective and easiest approaches is using a computer or tablet and wireless keyboard.

Not only is typing convenient, but it is also a multi-sensory activity that involves kinetic elements which can aid learning and retention of letter patterns. Typing is a highly accessible solution for learners who struggle with fine-motor skills and find it painful to write by hand, such as in dyspraxia.

It is also the preferred approach when dysgraphia is present or in certain cases of autism spectrum disorder, particularly for nonverbal individuals.

Moreover, touch-typing a word allows muscle memory to encode the spelling as a series of key strokes. This is a great aid for students who struggle with language-based learning difficulties. Learn more in this post on touch-typing for learners with dyslexia. Also note, learners with no disabilities, difficulties, or learning differences will still benefit from this approach as multi-sensory learning is effective for everyone.

How to improve spelling skills
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How to improve spelling skills

How to improve spelling skills

Spelling is one of those skills that a lot of people find challenging to master. This is particularly true if English isn’t your first language. One of the main reasons spelling is so hard to learn is that English is a highly irregular language. It has borrowed words from many other tongues and anglicized their spelling in an inconsistent way.

Spelling rules such as “i before e except after c” do exist in English, as in the words receive and receipt. But there are also plenty of exceptions to these rules, such as in species and science. Moreover, knowing a rule doesn’t always mean you can operationalize it in an automatic fashion when you need to write words quickly and accurately, for example during interviews, sales-meetings or timed assessments.

Making spelling fun can be a more effective approach
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7 Ways of making spelling fun

7 Ways of making spelling fun

Spelling is one of those subjects that most children and adults associate with rote learning. In a classroom context, it typically involves reciting words in front of the class, writing on the board, spelling bees and weekly quizzes. But hands-on games are a great way to move beyond repetitive drills and memorization, so kids can have fun and learn to spell at the same time.

If students are focused on achieving a goal, such as helping their team win, they may be more motivated to engage with the material and are more likely to learn a word’s spelling incidentally.

That’s because the more you hear, see, and use a word, the more active it becomes in memory. Spelling outside of the classroom doesn’t have to be boring either. Homework is often workbook-based, yet creative and multi-sensory activities make for fun projects that can entertain kids and help them spell. And it's a lot of fun to get outside and learn on the go too!

There are words on menus, street signs, film posters, and even t-shirts. Language is all around us and once kids start to pay attention to what’s in their environment, they are more likely to pick up on correct spelling patterns from repeat exposure.

Did you know learning to touch-type can make you a better speller? Be the best you can be with TTRS!

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How to practice typing
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How to practice typing

How to practice typing

Typing is one of those skills that takes practice to learn. There’s never been an individual, the world’s fastest typists included, who sat down at a keyboard and immediately began typing.

The reason for this is the muscles in your hands and fingers need time to adjust to new movement patterns. That’s why it’s important to introduce a handful of keys at a time, and move on only once you’ve mastered them.

Depending on the program you use, you might start with the home row keys or focus on vowels and then consonants following a curriculum of English phonics. Some courses may have drills made up of nonsense letter combinations, and others, like Touch-type Read and Spell, might take a whole word approach, making the course easier to follow for people with learning differences.

The benefit of typing real words from the beginning is that once the movement patterns have been acquired, they are stored in muscle memory and become procedural knowledge. Procedural knowledge is something you know how to do automatically and don’t have to think about, like driving or riding a bike. Turning spelling into procedural knowledge can help individuals who have dyslexia because the letters and letter sequences are saved in memory as a pattern of key-strokes that the fingers type out automatically.

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Touch-typing can support spelling skills and help students build confidence in and outside of the classroom

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What to do when you can't spell
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Help! I can’t spell.

Help! I can’t spell.

Everyone has difficulty with spelling from time to time. You might make a mistake when you use a word infrequently, or have trouble reporting a word’s spelling verbally when you’re put on the spot. These are common issues for a few reasons. One is that spelling is something we usually do in writing - delivering this information in another modality can be awkward. Two, spelling is information that we store in the brain as procedural knowledge.

This means it becomes automatic only after a person builds up extensive contact through repeat exposure to a word in reading and writing. You might have certain words you always mix up because you never learned the correct spelling, or because you wrote them incorrectly and now can’t tell the right from the wrong version. But some people struggle with spelling in a very different way.

For example, dyslexic individuals may put a word’s letters in the wrong order, miss out on a letter, or even add one that doesn’t belong. They often have difficulty spelling consistently, and can get a word right one day and not the next. This doesn’t mean they are “stupid” or “lazy,” it just means there’s something interrupting the encoding process by which words are split into their component sounds and those sounds are then mapped onto English letters.

What is the touch typing method and how does it compare to hunt-and-peck
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The touch typing method vs. two-finger typing

The touch typing method vs. two-finger typing

One of the main differences between the touch typing method of keyboarding and two-fingered typing is in how you allocate your attention while you work at the computer. When you type with two or more fingers, also known as the “hunt and peck” approach, your attention is split between visually scanning for keys, looking at the screen and/or looking at any additional materials you are reading or copying from.

Computer basics for adults to help at school and in the workplace
Read and Spell blog
Computer basics for adults

Computer basics for adults

For adults who lack familiarity with computers, life in the modern age can be a challenge. That’s because technology is involved in almost every aspect of our lives: we need it for work, school, keeping in touch, day-to-day task management, remote education and even online shopping.

Being able to use a word processor is required for students and working professionals because formal assignment and written reports must be typed. Referencing and research that used to be done in a library is now largely undertaken via online searches of the worldwide web and academic databases.

You need an email address to sign up for new services, make online purchases, apply for jobs and education programs, and communicate with friends and family. Even something as simple as locating a suitable local tradesman is more efficient when done through an online search vs. looking in the yellow pages.

And while tablets and smartphones account for a large portion of our daily technology use, computers are still an important tool.

Thankfully adult basic skills courses exist to help learners achieve the tech-fluency they need to feel more comfortable using computers and many local libraries and community centers offer free introductory programs too.

Best keyboard for typing -- which one should you chose?
Read and Spell blog
Best keyboard for typing -- which one should you chose?

Best keyboard for typing -- which one should you chose?

There are a number of points to consider when you’re looking for a new keyboard and because every individual has different needs, there’s no one size fits all solution. The best keyboard will depend on the size of your hands, any motor-skills difficulties or visual impairments you struggle with, how frequently you plan to use it, and your approach to typing – specifically if you hunt-and-peck or touch-type.

Keyboards come in different shapes, sizes, and layouts and you can also purchase accessories such as overlay mats and metal key-guards to enhance the typing experience. These may be particularly useful for typists who struggle to type a key without pressing neighboring letters or who have difficulty seeing the letters printed on keys. Children who are learning how to touch-type and are under the age of ten may also benefit from a child-size keyboard that allows them to reach the keys more easily.