Read and Spell Blog

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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Augmentative and alternative communication
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Augmentative and alternative communication

Augmentative and alternative communication

Augmentative and alternative communication is a general term used to refer to approaches, strategies, and tools, that enable children and adults with autism and speech and language disorders to communicate their wants, needs, thoughts, and emotions.

Augmentative and alternative communication is not appropriate for everyone with a speech or language disorder, but may be useful for people with apraxia of speech, stroke-related dysphasia and dysarthria, and other conditions that affect written expression and/or control of the muscles of the face, throat and mouth, such as cerebral palsy.

Sign language, pen and paper, and hand gestures are basic forms of augmentative and alternative communication, as is using a chart and pointing to pictures, letters, words or symbols.

Alternatives to speech can be as high-tech as specially fitted devices which allow people to communicate using custom buttons and pressure sensors, or as everyday as children and adults making use of a laptop computer and smartphone to meet their communication needs. On a computer or mobile device, written language can either be typed and displayed on screen or typed and read aloud by an automatized voice facilitated by text-to-speech technology.

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.

5 Types of learning difficulties and how to help
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5 Types of learning difficulties

5 Types of learning difficulties

A learning difficulty is a condition that can cause an individual to experience problems in a traditional classroom learning context. It may interfere with literacy skills development and math/maths and can also affect memory, ability to focus and organizational skills. A child or adult with a learning difficulty may require additional time to complete assignments at school and can often benefit from strategy instruction and classroom accommodations, such as material delivered in special fonts or the ability to use a computer to take notes.

No two individuals with a learning difficulty are exactly alike and many conditions, such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, exist on a wide-spectrum. There is also dyspraxia, a motor-skills difficulty that can affect a learner’s ability to write by hand, and may impact on planning skills. It’s not uncommon for learning difficulties and motor-skills difficulties to co-present. For example, dyslexia and dyspraxia, or ADD/ADHD and dyspraxia can occur together.

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 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.

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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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Apraxia vs. aphasia: What’s the difference?
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Apraxia vs. aphasia: What’s the difference?

Apraxia vs. aphasia: What’s the difference?

Both apraxia of speech and aphasia affect an individual’s ability to communicate – they just do so in different ways. Apraxia makes it hard to coordinate muscle movements and put sounds in the right order to produce intelligible speech. It may also impact on speech planning. Individuals can struggle with consonant clusters, rhythm, and stress, and may generally experience difficulties with aspects related to the prosody of language.

On the other hand, aphasia is about language retrieval and recognition. People with aphasia or dysphasia may not be able to find the words they need to express themselves in speech or in writing, or they might use the wrong words and not realize it. Additionally, individuals with receptive aphasia don’t always understand what other people are saying and can finding listening and reading challenging.

If aphasia and apraxia of speech are the result of a stroke, a person may also experience difficulties with enunciation, referred to as dysarthria. This can present as trouble controlling the volume levels of speech, excessive drooling, or problems getting enough air while speaking. Dysarthria is caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles of the lips, tongue, throat and face.

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.

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.

Which exercises can help with regaining speech after a stroke
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Regaining speech after a stroke

Regaining speech after a stroke

Communication difficulties following a stroke can take many forms. You may experience trouble finding the right word or have problems processing language that is directed at you – these conditions are commonly referred to as aphasia/dysphasia. When you struggle with speaking it’s referred to as productive aphasia and with understanding it’s receptive aphasia.

Aphasia and dysphasia are almost the same thing, except dysphasia is when you have partial access to language and aphasia is when you have none. Some individuals who have had a stroke find speaking difficult because of challenges with annunciation; this is called dysarthria. Speaking and breathing at the same time, or swallowing, may also be problematic with dysarthria.

It’s possible for paralysis, hemiplegia – one-sided paralysis - or hemiparesis - weakness on one side of the body following a stroke - to interrupt written modes of communication such as writing or typing. But just as every individual is unique, so is their recovery and it can be hard to put an exact estimate on the time it will take to regain communicative ability and/or how fully it will return.

Many people see the greatest gains in the first six weeks, as swelling in the brain goes down, and language processing areas which were temporarily affected come back online. However, it’s possible to see improvements for years after a stroke, particularly if an individual continues to receive speech therapy to strengthen and reinforce communication skills and confidence.