Linda Grimshaw, LCUP Reading Horizons Administrator

My Experience with Reading Horizons Elevate

I was skeptical when Pat asked me to look at the Reading Horizons Elevate program for phonics. I learned to read, many years ago, using phonics, so I wasn’t sure why we needed a new method. Couldn’t we just use the original teachings, updated for computer use?

I looked at the Reading Horizons webpage and thought, ?This looks ridiculous. Why not just sound out the word like we used to? The ?S? sound, then the ?T? sound, and so on. I remember drills on letter sounds. I can still hear the whole class hissing like snakes for the letter ‘s’ and buzzing like bees to make the ‘z’ sound. Day after day and year after year, drill, drill, drill on phonics.

Our clients don’t have years to learn English. Some of them don’t have time to meet with a tutor twice a week for ninety minutes. They have busy lives, work, chores, children, but they can find twenty minutes here and 20 minutes there.

So at Pat’s urging, I decided to take the online workshop course. It’s free from the Reading Horizons website; they say it will take two to four hours, but it took me longer. I have to admit it was hard for me at first. Marking a five-letter word with lines with arrows, ‘X’s’ and stars, the short or long vowel mark, and arcs under letters and a ‘rainbow s’ or ‘rainbow j,’ and a line crossing out a vowel seemed silly. It took me a while to see the benefit.

Then it dawned on me. It seemed silly to me because I already knew what the word was. I knew what it sounds like, how to say it, I knew what it meant, and I knew how to spell it. How? From those hours and days and years of drills!

But I tried to look at it from my student’s point of view. She’s from Colombia and speaks Spanish, so she’s mostly familiar with our alphabet. She doesn’t have hours a day or years to learn to speak English, so we need to accelerate the learning process for her. With Reading Horizons Elevate, she spends as much time as she wants to at home, learning the sounds and rules of our crazy language. It works for her.

She hears the sound of a vowel, sees an image of the mouth forming the sound, she can record her response and hear it played back so she can compare it to the proper pronunciation. Then a consonant is added to the vowel and a new sound is made. Another consonant is added, and it’s a word. Again, she hears it, she sees the mouth forming it, she records herself saying it, and listens and compares the pronunciation. And at the same time, she’s learning the meaning of the vocabulary.

And we can spend our time together on other topics, such as how to write number words on a check and how to leave a message on an answering machine or voice mail. We study social phrases and warning signs, important things in her daily life. When her debit card information was stolen, she was so proud that she could talk to the bank personnel and straighten out her account. That was partly due to our time together, but I also think she developed some self-confidence from improvement in her pronunciation.

Reading Horizons Elevate works, both for the student and the tutor. You’ll love it!