Articles – About This Course

The Building Blocks of Reading Course is a comprehensive Learn to Read Course that teaches all the sound/letter combinations – from letter a showing sound /a/ in apple, to letters si showing sound /zh/ in explosions.

The aims of this course are:

  • to equip non-teachers to successfully teach students, so they become independent readers;
  • to make it easy for tutors and students to progress through the course, right to the end;
  • to teach only the essentials, so students make rapid progress, and see immediate results;
  • to teach all the essential skills & knowledge, so students can be confident in their ability to read;
  • to help students understand how English really works, instead of believing it’s a chaotic mess;
  • to help students make sense of English, & understand how words work (even the weird words);
  • to only expect students to read words containing sound/letter combinations they have already been taught in the course;
  • to progressively build understanding and skills through step-by-step accumulation of knowledge;
  • to start at the beginning (with pre-reading skills), and work to the end (independent reading);
  • to set out the work that ALL beginning readers need to learn, no matter what their age is;
  • to equip students so that by the end of the course, they can read anything written in English even if they can’t understand what they’re reading e.g. a six year old can read the financial pages of the newspaper, but won’t be able to understand them.

Who this course is designed for

This course is designed to be taught to students who are school age and above. If your four or five year old is about to start school, and the school’s teaching reading record isn’t good, then with this course you can teach your child to become an independent reader at his or her own speed (10 minutes a day is often sufficient for little children).

You could make your lessons longer, but there’s no need to push – being able to read real words usually provides sufficient motivation to keep students of all ages working through the course. It’s best to stop the day’s work while students feel they’d like to do a bit more.

How the Course is Set Out

This course is set out step-by-step. It includes the pre-reading work. Don’t be tempted to skip this, no matter how old your student is, and no matter how much pre-reading stuff he or she has already done. This work is essential to success in this course.

This course is cumulative, so that later work builds on earlier work. That means that every student needs to do every step, unless otherwise mentioned in the course (e.g. there is a section teaching the Alphabet letters in order, and the lowercase and uppercase letters; if your student already knows this work, you are advised to go straight to the next section).

The course teaches all the essentials; no time is spent messing about with games and other time-wasting activities. There are teaching aids available; it’s a good idea to only use the ones your student needs – otherwise you’re just wasting your time.

The work is all set out. You don’t have to invent any work. If students complete a lesson quickly, no additional work is given to them; instead, they go straight on to the next section. Small amounts of reading work are included in the course, but don’t spend time on other reading, because once students know the letter/sound combinations – they will be able to read anything they want, so the goal is to get through the course as quickly as possible.

Older Students

An older student, such as a fifteen year old, can progress very rapidly indeed. They could do half an hour or an hour a day. If you have the time, and they are very keen you could even do an hour in the morning and one in the evening – it depends totally on how much time you have, and how rapidly they want to progress.

The problem with students of this age is keeping up with them and keeping them on course, as once they learn some of the work they want to yield to the temptation of reading words which require knowledge they have not yet been taught.

If students want to do extra-curricular reading (e.g. junk mail), make sure that you choose the words they read, and that the words you choose comply with the information they have already been taught. Only allow a little of this, as the best use of time is working through the course.

But if these students remain steady, and stick to following the course to the end, they make amazing students. This is because once they realize that the reason they failed to learn to read in the past was not because they were stupid, but because the course or method used was deficient, they are unstoppable and insatiable.


Once students get through this course, they can read anything, so make sure that as soon as you start tutoring, you put safely away anything your student should not read.

Students who have tried to learn to read in the past, can be carrying a lot of emotional baggage. Be patient with them. It’s only when they can see that the course only asks them to sound out and blend using sounds and letters they HAVE already been taught, that their confidence will increase.

What this course covers

This course includes all the sounds, and the letters representing them:

  • the Alphabet Sounds;
  • the Multiple Sounds (e.g. sh & th);
  • the Old Code (e.g. kn & oa);
  • the Rule Sounds (e.g. ck & dge); &
  • the Foreign Sounds (e.g. eau & ph)

To learn more about this course, click Reading Course, in the menu.