A self help aid for learning to read and spell

A half-hour cartoon DIY literacy video
with animated graphics
to teach yourself to read or find out where you got stuck,
with an overview of the English writing system
and what it helps to know to learn to read and spell

This unique overview of the English writing system and how to cope with it, starting from scratch, is online free to copy from www.ozreadandspell.com.au and also as earlier DVD versions 10, DVD Demo of Part 3, and video VHS 9

Contact Valerie Yule, Literacy Innovations, with your address and any relevant details about the age, first language etc. of the learners who will use them. Ask your local library or school to send for a free set, that can be copied for distribution

  • How to use the program for fast learning
  • The Dream
  • The lessons, the rationale, and FAQ
  • Part 1. How to hear sounds in words
  • Part 2. Letters and sounds
  • Part 3. Letters in words
  • Part 4. Spelling and how to cope with it
  • Part 5. Reading whatever you want to read

These materials are freely available to use and copy, (Copyright remains with Valerie Yule)

In return please send feedback and ideas, copies of learners' completed checklists and p&p (A$10). Super versions are still to be made, and you can help.

See further pages on Literacy, including index page on literacy.

See details below and also see:


  • In the future, EVERYONE who starts to learn to read in English, or who faces confusions, will as a matter of course, be able to watch and watch again, in their own time, preferably at home, a 30-minute literacy video/CD or DVD like this, tailored for their particular needs, from pre-school to adults learning English language.
  • It will be useful for diagnosis, research and an aid to courses and teaching.
    It will not be suitable for group viewing, where social factors always affect concentration and responses.
  • The video or CD or DVD will be FREE. Copies can be down loaded from the Internet, bought and borrowed, and copied again freely - except for commercial profit. Official distributors such as the ABC or British Council will profit from their distribution.
  • Art. Literacy videos/CDs, DVDs will be of such high quality that they win awards at film festivals.

Plus Literacy for Home-Learning comic book series of 22 lessons, with picture checklist , black-and-white checklist, and linked pages on Literacy such as the index page on literacy. All can be downloaded and copied

Contact Literacy Innovations

It has only recently become possible to 'teach yourself to read' at home, because learners could not read the books to teach them. Video and DVD change this.

Animated graphics can demonstrate any skill, because speech can go with the pictures and script, and the animation that can explicate and simplify complex concepts is visually fascinating.

Videos that teach foreign languages and writing systems show the potential to also teach how to read in English. But instead what has been happening is that modern multi-media for literacy is getting to be a vastly expensive time-consuming business, and still do not give learners the overview they really need to understand what they are supposed to be doing.

See article in UNESCO's International Review of Education, 42.1/3, 1996.

This is an Australian experimetnal video which is, to my knowledge, the first to take up the opportunity for radical innovation in methods and content of literacy teaching that is offered by audiovisual media. It demonstrates 'how to read' from the very beginning, by a half-hour overview to be watched and rewatched until each point becomes familiar. Each point can be directly applied to actually reading in two booklet manuals and to reading of their own choice rather than diversions into miscellaneous directed 'activities'. It is not like TV literacy dramas, where the message must get home on a single viewing.

The video was made because I found that many baffled learners referred to me professionally were not 'dyslexic' but were simply blocked by some simple gap or confusion that had never been recognised, such as 'Are there only 26 letters? I thought there were thousands! '

The basic cause of reading difficulty is confusion.' (Vernon 1957).

These gaps and confusions can now be cleared up by watching the video.

The experimental video starts from scratch, since so many adults have become lost to literacy even in their first year at school. It demonstrates aspects of how to read that good readers and spellers discover by intuition, if not by direct teaching, and it clarifies how to use knowledge of the spoken language to decode and obtain meaning from the alphabetic written language. Their first watching gives an overall view. Then learners can go back and watch the detail more carefully, and skip sections that they already know or now understand.

Video-graphics are superb at visual 'maps' which are economical summaries of processes and knowledge. They can chunk and link information (Miller 1956), using 'one way to teach a thousand things'. A great deal of information is presented in a very condensed form.


by singing slowly. For Age 3 upward, and everyone with dyslexic problems or complete non-readers, regardless of age.


The ABC song, letters that morph into pictures and back to letters, upper and lower case, digraphs, different fonts and letter shapes For Age 3 upwards and everyone with dyslexic problems or complete non-readers, regardless of age. Even adults aged 45 in literacy classes may discover they did not know the full alphabet.


How to read unfamiliar words, onsets and rimes in words, consonants and the 19+ vowel sounds, blending sounds, building up words, some common spelling patterns. For age 4 upwards, and everyone with dyslexic problems or needing basic help with reading and spelling skills, regardless of age. The song contains the easiest sounds to hear, teaches observation of the structure of words, and its repetition helps beginners develop fluency in reading for meaning,


The 100 most common words in a sing-song containing nearly half the words in everyday text. Why English spelling has problems and how to cope with it, where spellings come from, how to read long words by taking them to bits, common and less common spelling patterns. For age 5 upwards, and everyone with dyslexic problems or needing help with spelling or reading, regardless of age. Clues show how to tackle learning spelling efficiently.


How to put strategies and clues together to read for meaning. For age 6 upwards, and everyone needing help with reading accurately, regardless of age. Shows how beginning readers develop fast reading skills by first practising accuracy and self-correction, until skills become automatic.


Some details

Features of letters, words, sentences and text, based on a story and songs with familiar tunes, with cartoon graphics and animated text that make the print intrinsically interesting. It shows:

  • How to learn to read by reading, with songs and story right from the start.
  • How to hear sounds in words.
  • How letters represent speech sounds. Each letter is made memorable through morphing into an animated picture with the same shape and initial speech sound, then reverting - a presentation which also helps to prevent letter reversals - and the alphabet is linked in sequence with song and chart.
  • How there can be different visual forms of the same letters, as represented in letter-cases, handwriting and font varieties.
  • Meaningful text is used to demonstrate the clues of initial letters, when two letters represent one sound, the vowel sounds, and some of the ways to spell the 5 primaryand 5 'long' vowel sounds and the remaining ar-er-air-aw and ow-oy-oo-oo sets, how sounds can be blended, and how letters can be substituted to make new words, with analogies in 'spelling families'.
  • How words and sentence structures are built up, and where and how to begin reading a word.
  • Word-plays show how to use analogies and rimes in word recognition, and highlight the importance of meaning.
  • The basic underlying vowel spelling system and consonant-vowel combinations are shown graphically, with clues on how to cope with the unpredictable deviations from the English spelling system. Many failing learners consider they must be stupid because they cannot the sense in many spellings; to be told that English spelling itself is sometimes 'silly' and why, and how to cope with this, boosts their own self-confidence. Some teachers have condemned the video for giving away this information about English spelling, as being demoralising. But students have a democratic right to know.
  • Origins of English spellings from Old English, French, Latin and Greek help learners to recognise spelling patterns outside the system.
  • Segmentating long words, classical roots, prefixes and suffixes assists reading and comprehending new vocabulary.
  • The most common 64 words are set in a simple story. Learners are encouraged to find that if they can read one hundred common words, they can read almost half of most texts. When they test this claim out on a page of print by marking these words with a felt pen, they see that the task left to learn appears small and achievable. Setting the most common words in a single story chunks the information, and the meaningful context makes them all easier to remember than if set out in lists. Chunking the most common words together in one story is also strategic for spelling because a high proportion of the words that you meet most often are among the most irregularly spelled.

  • Students can complete a checklist, with or without help, to check both what they found out from the video, and what they find they knew already. The overview of their own knowledge also proves helpful.
  • So the video is a diagnostic and remedial self-help tool that could be accessible to anyone, borrowed or purchased from local video-libraries, public libraries, shops, work-places, schools and courses. Versions could be made for children, teenagers, adults, second-language learners, backward and handicapped learners, bright learners and for a big export market.
  • Computer animated graphics can appeal to all ages. They can be designed for an adult level of understanding, but nine-year-old children can still grasp basic teaching points, and younger children can preview what lies ahead as they enjoy the intrinsic entertainment of animated cartoon.
  • The video boosts learners' self-esteem because it 'gives power to the people', allowing independent learning while still leaving a major role of inspiring, supervising and extending students for teachers, who can also find it a valuable complementary aid Teachers will have a far more interesting working day when their students can read and write more easily.
  • The value of the video concept is shown in the enthusiastic responses of many students,who recommended even the amateur pilot version to each other, often to the surprise of sceptical tutors. Older students liked to use it as intended, informally and individually at home, to use independently, as they like.
    It is unsuitable for initial class viewing, except for some young children who will often join spontaneously in the songs and word-play. Older people find that in a formal group it is socially difficult to attend to the content of a video rather than to judge it as entertainment.
How to Use ABC GO!
  1. WATCH as you like, when you like. START where you like, using the buttons.
  2. JOIN IN with the sounds, words and singing.
  3. GET A BOOK or PLASTIC LETTERS to practise on.
  5. WATCH AGAIN and again parts that are not clear, until they are clear.

Joining in with the sounds, words and singing is the best way to be involved and to learn fast.

  1. Beginners can have colored plastic letters and an ABC chart too. Watch individually, at home, in free play, in hospital or a free corner at a course or school. NOT suitable for groups, or even watching with a teacher the first time. 2. Joining in with the sounds, words and singing involves learners and they learn fast. Just sitting back and watching just for entertainment is less useful and can even become boring.
  2. Re-watch parts still not clear to make it familiar, clear and connected. Stop at any point you like. Ask teachers or tutors about points needing more help. On first viewing it may seem too fast.
  3. THE CHECK-LIST helps beforehand by showing the structure of the program for those who can already read. Iit is important to fill it in afterwards to make clear to yourself what you know already and what you found out. Keep the checklist to help you remember what you saw.

    Cartoon graphics, animated text and songs, starting from scratch are 'advance-organizers' for learners, to prevent confusion, and to clear up gaps and confusions for those who have problems. Its content is based on all the gaps and confusions of learners who have been referred to me for diagnoses of possible dyslexia. The emphases throughout are on Understanding and How To. Eventually different versions can meet different needs and abilities.

    PLANNED. A comic book of content, and reading songs and legends of all nations.

    Almost all students completing checklists so far have all learnt something from the video, sometimes at a surprisingly basic level, like how to blend sounds, or the ABC in order.

    • Evaluation since 1993 shows how the cheaply-made experimental video can be improved and remade professionally. Millions of dollars are being thrown at literacy - but why has nobody who is throwing this sort of money around not yet been able to afford $30,000 to remake it, for a re-usable literacy aid, affordable for all?

    The Reality Achieved so Far

    • The present EXPERIMENTAL VERSIONS still do not achieve the dream.
    • You can also see that it is a 'Chinese' idea of art, that must never be quite perfect. Indeed, viewers can see how many slips they can find. But beyond the image, the content it is very useful.
    • Testing, reviews and improvements are needed. I would offer to be an honorary consultant when other versions are made, including versions made by schools, with almost everyone in the school involved, including failing learners musicians, computer whizzes and artists.
    • DVD Experimental Version 10 and DVD Demo of Part 3 (Letters and Words)
    • VHS Experimental Version 9

    This production can be copied freely for use in learning, teaching, research, experiment and review, with acknowledgment to the author at all times. Feedback, findings and evaluations are requested.

    Copyright. No commercial use in whole, in part or in adaptation, in any format, or in any medium, without written permission from the author. © : Valerie Yule 2003

    Top Learning Principles!

    • Overview of the English writing system,
    • Starts from scratch,
    • With advance organizers,
    • Self-help for independent learning,
    • Cognitive understanding is the key,
    • Chunking information,
    • No activities except reading,
    • Intrinsic entertainment with no diversions,
    • Lots of surprises,
    • and Learning to read by reading.
    Not suitable for group viewing