Early Reading

Frequently Asked Questions about Fantastic Phonics downloadable readers

Is It Proven?
Yes. A three year, independent research program tested Fantastic Phonics in an intervention program with Grade 2/3 Liberian children. These children had little previous exposure to English, and no exposure to reading. The results were tested after just 18 months - they showed an average 250% increase in reading capability across a range of indicators.

The important aspect of this research was that, with the right materials and teacher awareness of phonics, a child can be taught to read in just 18 months, from a position of no previous exposure. The program moderators were sufficiently impressed with Fantastic Phonics that they printed 75,000 books.

What does the School Licence permit?
There are TWO school licenses - a Class license, and a School license.

  • a Class License permits a teacher to print and display the books for a single class of 30 children. A single login is provided.
  • a School License permits teachers to print for up to 5 classes in the school. Up to five concurrent logins are allowed.
  • we also provide District Licenses covering several schools at a discount.
  • these licenses are renewable after 12 months.

We are a Charity - how can we access it?
We will need a request from a senior person within your organisation. We will review the request, and possibly ask a few questions, but we haven't said 'no' to a request.

This is the same for an Aid Organisation, an NGO, or similar not-for-profit organisation. A license is given for the breadth of the project you describe, and is limited to a 12 month period. If your program is lasting longer than that, we will renew the license.

Of course, the license specifically excludes the sale of the books, or any other financial benefit.

Can we just buy Series One - the first 20 books?
We do not sell the Program in this way, for an explicit reason - the Program is based on the methodology proven by research to succeed, and that means a gently graded, sequential series of interlocking steps. Every book in the Program serves a specific function in the achievement of reading. Please read the research summary to understand the process. A significant lesson of ALL the research findings is that you shouldn't "mix 'n match" from different sources. This can be very confusing for the child and acts as a deterrent, more than a benefit.

Is it interactive?
No, for multiple reasons.

  • it is not a 'game' that you give to your child and hope they'll learn without your assistance. There are plenty of distractive interactive games that will visually entertain your child without teaching them anything, but an "interactive game" completely misunderstands how reading is learned.
  • the Program is designed as a learning tool for a parent or teacher - that is the interaction required.
  • it is widely used in areas that have no electricity, let alone a computer. The books are printed as "hard-copy" as given to the children. For many of them, it is the first book in English they will have seen.
  • we are developing the Program into a video series which is applicable for 'smartphone' use, because this may be one technology which will be widely available in disadvantaged communities.

How long will it take before my child starts reading?
There are two phases of reading - Guided and Independent. Fantastic Phonics forms the "Guided" section of the process. Our experience is that children aged 5 years can achieve independent reading within 12 months, though this is dependent on the ability of the child and time that they spend with the Program. 15-20 minutes every night is recommended, but not when they are tired.

What is "phonemic awareness"?
Adults don't realise how complex reading is. When a young child sees a word for the first time, they see a "shape", much like they see a dog-shape (as a drawing) on paper. Except, they recognise the dog, because the shape reflects the real-life shape of the dog.

When they see a word, it has no meaning whatsoever. In phonics, we are training them to see "into" the 'shape' to split the 'shape' into core phonic components. There are about 48 of these components.

The next step for the child is to associate the "phoneme" (the phonic component) with a sound. Now, luckily, most children have a solid vocabulary  - they know the sounds - so the task for them is to associate the word segment (phoneme) with the sounds. This is where the parent and teachers are crucial - they must explicitly state, over and over, the sound that the phoneme makes.

Then, when the child sees that phonic segment in a word, they are able to "sound it" aloud - which is reading. Suddenly, they find themselves creating words that they have heard and understand - matching the shapes on the page with everyday language they know.

Is it effective for Children from a non-English speaking background?
Emphatically "Yes!" The Liberian research showed that children with little awareness of spoken English can achieve success in as little as 18 months. We have families AND schools using the program in Japan, China, Cambodia, Thailand, Lithuania, Russia, Georgia, and Moldovia. It is used in Finland, Sweden, Belgium and Germany, and Spain, Portugal and Malta.

In South America, it is used in almost every country (that we are aware of) and we have schools in Arab speaking counties through the Middle East. We are continously amazed at the places where it is used - places we'd never heard of previously.

Can it be used by Adults?
Yes. We know from the emails we receive that entire FAMILIES are using the Program.


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