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Question: As I am researching SWR, I am still feeling confused about how this program is different from say, ABeka or another program that teaches phonics and spelling rules.Answer: The term phonics simply means that the sounds of the letters are taught. The structure, methods, and timing of doing so varies from program to program. Most phonics programs use incomplete phonics or phonics taught at the wrong time. Many phonics programs have faulty rules. If you see a phonics program that has a list of words to learn by sight alone, you know that it is an incomplete program. English has amazingly consistent, reliable rules. Usually the programs with long list of "rule breaker" words have rules that are not true to the language. For example, many programs, ABeka included, teach that when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking. In other words the rule says that if you have a two-vowel pair (ea, ou, eu) then the first vowel will say its letter name and the last one will be silent. This would be a great rule if English consistently worked that way, but it does not. Although there are many words that appear to follow this pattern, even more words fail to do so. I consider this at best to be a worthless rule. Try to read the following words using that rule in reference to just one of the many double vowel pairs in English: bread, head, deaf, bear, dread, death, realm, cleanse, health, already, heavy, feather, heaven, treachery, jealousy, meadow, zealous, meant, treasure, endeavor, pleasant, weather, great, break, steak, learn, earth, heard, earl, pearl, search, dearth, hearse, yearn, earth, bureau. This is not even a complete list of words that would be an exception to that bogus rule. None of these words would be an exception in SWR.Question: I have heard a bunch about how it is a bit confusing and difficult to get started. I guess I just need to know what exactly is so difficult.Answer: There are two basic reasons that our approach requires some start-up work for the teacher. 1. We introduce the tools of the language quickly and then continue to work with them over the years in application to a core set of words graded by word difficulty. Most programs teach only a partial list of the tools of the language in a pokey fashion. The material they teach is presently slowly over a long period of time, concentrating on one small aspect at a time. Our students get both the big picture and the small picture. 2. Most adults today never learned the concepts that we teach. Did anyone ever teach you the five reasons for English words to have a silent final E? Can you see multi-letter phonograms and instantly say all the sounds that combination of letters commonly make given in the order of frequency? Most programs leave students in the dark as they learn fragmented information and try to piece it together. We expose students in a non-threatening way to the essentials within the first six-weeks. From there on out they learn to apply these concepts to specific words until the process becomes second nature. Most other programs are easier for the teacher at first. She has one lesson with a focus on one idea. She does not have to do much studying or thinking. For example, the ABeka program teaches that CH makes three sounds just as we do, but the when and how for teaching this is very different. In ABeka the students have an entire spelling lesson with CH making the sound in church. No mention is made of the other two sounds CH can make. Months later the students will have a spelling lesson with words that use the CH making the sound in Christmas. In a later year the students will have a lesson with CH making the sound in chef. The typical teacher and student who completes the ABeka program will be unable to instantly tell you these three sounds in frequency order. In contrast, our program teaches in isolation the CH. The student learns to see a card with just "ch" and say the sounds /ch-k-sh/. The student learns to hear the teacher say "write the phonogram that says /ch-k-sh/. In other words the student can see and "read" the phonogram or hear and write or "spell" the phonogram. I had a college profession of linguistics who once came to my seminar and he was amazed to learn that the CH made three sounds. He could quickly see it was true, but he had never had the information summarized into one neat package for easy retrieval. When I say the sound with little children I move my arm to imitate the movement of the connecting rods to the wheels of a train: arm up in the air, straight down, forward and back while I say the sounds that remind us of the sounds of a train: /ch-k-sh/. We have 98 keys that are the foundation to spelling English words from beginning simple words to college level vocabulary. The challenge in the beginning for the teacher's new to this program is learning these keys. They are not complicated. I often hear four and five year old children repeating them with ease, even before they have full understanding. The children can learn this rapidly, especially if they have not been confused with other bogus rules or faulty phonics first. The challenge is for us adults. We do not pick up new things as quickly as a child. We gravitate to the comfort zone of what we know already. As for matters of phonics, most of us know very little. Workbooks beckon to us as the easy out. What are these 98 keys? We have 70 phonograms (letters or combinations of letters that represent the sounds of speech) and 28 spelling rules. This sounds like a lot when you can just pick up a workbook and not have to learn much of anything at all. Once a teacher experiences teaching our way, she never wants to go back to the workbook or faulty phonics approach. Our students are not left in a perpetual fog of uncertainty. We can answer so many of their "why" questions with more than "just because." Thestudents have a greater level of confidence. The teacher has a higher level of satisfaction with less long-term frustration. Even students who do well with ABeka, benefit from learning our approach. Students who struggle with ABeka, commonly come to us and thrive.