Valerie Yules Letters

September 3, 2012

International Literacy Day September 8

International Literacy Day – September 8. See these ozideas pages on literacy, Reading Cribs, education and spelling.

International literacy days don’t stop at September 8

Australia does well in literacy at the top end of achievers.  We still have to attend to those at the bottom.  Here are three ideas to run with, since Education departments are very conservative.
1.  The government should pay to bring the bottom schools up to equality with the top private schools in buildings and resources.  Morale  jumps in good surroundings and with resources like everybody else.  A school principal in Fitzroy reckoned her school would take up all Fitzroy if it had as much space per pupil as Scotch College.
2. Copy Finland in many small things as well as teachers’ quality. For example, The AGE on June 4, p 11 showed a picture of five-year-olds in a Finnish school, all sitting on chairs and benches in a circle round the teacher.  If our schools do that, there would be a much better start for wriggly children, especially boys.
For many years we have sat children 4-7 on the floor, looking up at the teacher, and often up her knickers.  They are uncomfortable and many annoy each other and all cannot see what the teacher is showing. The teacher cannot see them all.  Sit them up on chairs and benches!
3. Experiment!   That is the way to progress.  
For example, put cribs without spelling traps next to pages of normal text,  That means cutting 6% of surplus letters and changing 3% of misleading letters in the text, apart from 35 very corrmon words which make up 12% of everyday reading –  all almost always among as come some could should would half know of off one only once other pull push put they their two as was what want who why, and word-endings -ion/-tion/-sion.  
If struggling learners were given these words honestly as ‘tricky spellings’ then so many would not give up so early. Disadvantaged children have not seen these words in books that parents have read to them. 
A little thing that would make a tremendous difference.
My pilot experiments have been ignored.
4. Put spelling games on the Puzl pages of newspapers for everyone to explor spelling – and poor readers to discover that they can read.

2011, Yule, Valerie  ‘Recent developments which affect spelling. On the possibility of removing the unnecessary difficulties in English spelling, while leaving the basic appearance of English print intact.’  English Today, 107, vol 27, No 3. Sept 2011, pp 62-67  Can you spell?  The best of us may not be perfect.

1986. The design of spelling to meet needs & abilities. Harvard Educational Review. 56.3. 278 – 297.  Half-hour cartoon video of what it helps to know to learn to read and spell, from the beginning.  is a home page for many pages –  The Book of Spells and Misspells.  A funny and comprehensive treasury of spelling Home page for lots of ideas about teaching and learning.

and see the French reform

valerie yule

Dr Valerie Yule,  M.A., Ph.D, Dip.Ed., M.B.Ps.S.   Academic positions at Melbourne, Monash and Aberdeen Universities in departments of Psychology and Education; Teacher at all levels, from preschool to adult and migrant literacy and PhD supervision; Clinical child psychologist at the Royal Children’s Hospitals, Melbourne and Aberdeen; Schools psychologist chiefly but not only in disadvantaged schools, Present research on imagination and literacy.


Create a free website or blog at