Easyread FAQs

Is your question about payments, subscribing to the system, or prizes?

If you’ve finished your ten free Easyread lessons, you may be wondering how to continue past the trial for further lessons. Once you’re ready to enrol, we’ll send you a link for setting up payments in a message.

Before enrolment, however, we like to be sure that each learner is a good match for the course and that everything is heading in the right direction for them to achieve good progress. We therefore require our early support processes to be completed.

Here are the compulsory steps before enrolment:

  • If you’re past lesson 5 and haven’t entered the codewords SPLISH and FUNKY, you will need to do so. Use the red codeword button next to your learner’s name in the lesson zone.
  • Respond to each of the three questionnaires in your message inbox: Baseline Assessment, SPLISH codeword message, and FUNKY codeword message. Click Reply at the bottom, then scroll through the text box and type in your answers.
  • Complete your Phase 1 phone consultation. The codeword messages include a link for booking a call with one of our reading specialists.

Thank you, and don’t hesitate to send us a message with any questions that you have!

We do not have a minimum enrollment period, or cancellation notification period. We keep things easy – just send us a message within your account telling us you’d like to cancel and a brief reason why.

We do not give partial refunds if you cancel in the middle of the month. You will have access to the number of lessons you have left from the previous month’s payment, to enjoy at your leisure.

We factor short breaks into the subscription cost, because nearly everyone has to take a break for a couple of weeks at some point. Otherwise we would spend most of our time stopping and starting subscriptions! It runs like a gym membership, that you don’t stop until you are ready to cancel. 

No. You can cancel at any time by messaging us. You will be able to access lessons for the rest of the month that you have paid for.

Generally we recommend that you get one child well on the way first and then add the second. We add the second child through the first account in order to apply the sibling discount. Rather than a free trial, we just cancel and refund if there is any reason for the second child not to continue.

You can only set up the second learner once you have converted the first one to a full subscription. Just message us when you would like to add the second learner and we will send you a link for doing so.

Yes, you can add a sibling on the 20% discount once you have converted to a full account. Just message us for the discounted payment link.

Message us and we will send you a secure link where you can update your card details.

Our prizes travel round the globe to get to you, so please give us 3-4 weeks or so after submitting the codeword to get it to you. If it seems late: first check your address for any errors listed in your Admin Zone. Change it if not. Second, message us and we will resend the prize, whether it arrived broken or you never received it!

You can find out pricing page for your global area, here: https://dm-ed.com/membership/6-11-pricing/
 

Is your question about how trainertext works, or have you noticed an issue with the trainertext sounds?

It can be tricky to understand how the Trainertext works, because we are so trained to thinking a letter has a single sound. In fact, in English, a letter can often make multiple sounds! The characters help because each character = 1 single sound, which is the starting sound in its name. 

So the ant in pink pants is the /a/ sound in bat, hat and sat.

The ape in a cape is the /ai/ sound of fate, rain and David.

With the consonants it is the sound before the first vowel. So the duck is the /d/ sound of deep, doze and dozen. The dragon is the double sound /dr/ of drip, dry and drive.

Here is a brief video explanation from our founder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shYOc2sFVnE&feature=youtu.be

Trainertext functions much like training wheels on a bike. The visual characters are there to help learn the letter-to-sound patterns through repeated exposure to all the lovely irregularities in the English language. And, like riding a bike, once you remove the training wheels, the brain retains the skill without needing the support. We remove the characters slowly from the lessons, over 90 lessons or so.

Our process is new and different to the rules-based approach of conventional phonics. So let us explain in a bit more detail how it works. English uses over 400 letter patterns to represent 45 sounds in around 1,000,000 words. The average adult can read and understand 80-100,000 different words and names.

So text is complex and particularly in English the “rules” often do not work. Look at word groups like gas/has/was and love/move/cove and you will see how tricky it is for a learner when the sound of a letter changes without any apparent reason.

What we have found far more successful is learning by practice, in the same way as catching a ball or riding a bike. As your child works through the decoding process each day on Easyread, the characters are there to help him or her pick the correct sounds for each word. But the child’s brain is constantly absorbing the information all the time and developing new neural pathways matching letter patterns with sound patterns.

You will find that after around 60-90 lessons, that mapping of letter patterns and sounds is strong enough for the child to start using it without the images to help. From that base we keep building experience and confidence with more challenging text.

Because we are re-engineering the neural links in the brain, it does take some time. But when the lessons are used well, we find it always works. There can of course be other complications, which we need to be alert for and fix as necessary. Your observations are very important for that.

And we all come across words we are not sure how to pronounce on first meeting. But that becomes more and more unusual as you do more and more reading.

Yes, there are always little discrepancies between how people pronounce words and how they are coded in the system. The reason is that we all speak slightly differently! In Phases 2 and 3 you can choose a dialect for the reading section and you can recode individual words by right clicking on them in the story. But when you come across little problems in the games, just help your learner through them until the issue seems to go away.

You are right that we use both “th” sounds with the Thief. Our challenge has been to find a character to use for the other sound. It really only appears in a few words like this/that/then/there. So we go with a slight fudge.

In reality that happens quite a bit throughout the Trainertext system, especially when you think how much dialects vary. Our goal is to get a child very close, in the right zone, rather than matching exactly how they pronounce that word, compared to their neighbor. 

There are just a few exceptions to the otherwise one-to-one relationships between character and sound. They are:

(1) The two /k/ characters (the cat and the kangaroos). We have a character for each letter of the alphabet. So you will find the cat corresponding more to the letter c and the kangaroos more to the letter k. We are due to phase this out soon.

(2) Digraphs: the star in the car, the dragon on a wagon, the crocodile who ran a mile, and the triceratops with a bucket and mops. These characters represent the sound sequences /st/, /dr/, /kr/, and /tr/, respectively. We find it makes it easier for children to decode these digraph spellings by conceptualising them as a single blended unit rather than blending together a /d/ and a /r/, for example.

Is your question about one of the games, the library section, or the lessons?

We need the children to be doing lessons for a number of months to get the right outcome, because neural changes take time to fully establish. The games are part of the motivation mix to make the repeated login over time happen.

If we put all of the favourite games into the extra games zone, some of the children would inevitably gorge on them and then those games would tend to lose some of their appeal.

So a key part of the structure of the course is to keep the lessons short, easy and fun, with a bit of excitement in seeing what game will be played and whether there is a codeword waiting at the end.

Rhyming exercises are a key auditory processing function used every time we read. It is quite common for people to find it hard and is part of the reason that they have found reading hard.

First, help as much as you need to in the lessons. You can do Rhyme Time as a team together.

Then what we suggest is that you play a sound game together. One of you says a word and the other has to think of a word that rhymes. Eventually you will run out of rhymes, so the person who cannot think of a rhyme then says a word that starts with the same sound as the last word.

So it might go something like this:

right-bite-night-white-wing-ring-roll-bowl-goal-goat-moat…

You can also play rhyming “I Spy” or any other games you can think of. Those should help, after about a week or so of practice.

Sorry to hear that you had a technical frustration! Check out our technical first aid process, which fixes 90% of the problems right away. 

The library is adaptive. So we start with a very short bit of text. If that is going okay, then we start to release the upper shelves, which have more and more text on each level and the format changes too. Your child will unlock the upper shelves as fluency and accuracy improves. We aim for you to be spending 7-9 minutes in the first section of the reading.

The library has a mix of different books with different styles. So you can choose whether you read factual stuff or stories.

Inevitably the length each day is limited, but that is important because we need your child to be comfortable that there is no need to rush. It means he/she can just work on the decoding of each word, as the main focus each session.

Once we have embedded that as the primary reading strategy, we can then start to build fluency in Phase 3.

The aim of the images-only text is to ensure that every child is developing decoding ability when doing the lessons.

We have found that some children are very adept at sight-reading a lot of the story, which reduces their rate of progress. So we get them to decode the text at least once during the first read-through of a passage using the Trainertext characters only. They then read the same passage again the next day with the normal text.

We normally find it takes around 10 days for the images-only text to start to seem easy. And that has been a big breakthrough moment for a lot of children in terms of their phonemic awareness and blending skills.

The skills being learned during these early lessons do take time to transfer over to normal reading. We normally expect that to start at around lesson 90. And then we expect to see spelling start to improve from around lesson 150.

We are building a map of neural connections for all the 400+ letter patterns used in English and the sounds they can represent. So it does take a little bit of time.

The thinking behind it is that the characters-only section mimics the process of decoding in actual reading, therefore strengthening the “decoding muscle” in the brain. The problem with clicking to see the letters and writing the words down is that it is interrupting the flow of the decoding + blending practice as an auditory processing task. We don’t want the learner to have a visual memory of the word for the repeat, the next day. It is also good to build confidence in the decode process.

We only leave the facility to click on the words for those ones that are really tricky and you just want to double check!

We put the single words out of order in the first section of the library as a safeguard against guessing. Many guessers use context clues to anticipate the next word. Scrambling the text prevents that. They then can read the flow of the text correctly for the phrase reread.

Yes, the early lessons will seem very easy! But we do try to make it all seem easy in the first 14 lessons while we have to introduce various concepts and all of the characters. We also want to build confidence from Day 1. Starting at Lesson 15, you will see it getting more complex quite quickly.

We don’t recommend repeating lessons because it is bad for the learner’s psychology and tends to be a bit boring.

If a particular lesson was really hard, it’s okay just carrying on to the next lesson. Spend a bit of time revising the characters using the card set in your help zone printables page.

If a lesson has seemed really hard and you feel that repeating it will build your child’s confidence, then that is fine.

We want you to take a break after 15 minutes. A long, stressful lesson is not good for the learning process. So once you have done 15 minutes the system will tend to block further progress for the next hour.

That means you want to log into the lesson just as you start.

You will also find the system only allows one lesson per day. That is plenty to achieve the aim and doing more can lead to problems.

There are 223 lessons in the full course before the big helicopter prize. But really, there are as many (or few!) as you need. As you know, we guarantee you will see improvement by lesson 90. Most people do 3-6 months of lesson on average before they feel like they do not need us any more! You just end your membership when you are happy with the results. There is no minimum enrolment, or cancellation notification period.

Here is a summary of our process:

Phase 1 (Lessons 1-14) – Introduce Trainertext visual phonics and get decoding going.
Phase 2  – Build confidence in decoding/blending words until automatic by doing daily reading practice in the Library Zone.
Phase 3  – Start to develop reading fluency with chapter books, introduce comprehension questions and begin spelling work.

The system is adaptive and so the switch from Phase 2 to Phase 3 varies from child to child.

Is your question about one of the games, the library section, or the lessons?

Good question! The assessors are just an internal indication we use to track progress over time. They don’t relate to age or grade level. Most children start around Levels 1-3 and progress to the top (7-8) by the end of the program. Their main purpose is to show us positive change over time however, rather than achieving a specific level. The assessors pop up in the lessons regularly. You can see the results in the Admin Zone, by pressing on the green INFO button.

The best indicators of improvement are what you see with your eyes and hear with your ears. We actually rely on your feedback more than our internal data tracking! Qualitative is always better than quantitative, when it comes to reading progress.

That said, you can see a number of fancy graphs in the Admin Zone, by pressing on the green INFO button. They will start to populate with useful data around Lesson 30, and then we would recommend taking a look no more than once a month, since they compile data showing change over time, rather than a daily view.

We do see that happening with some children. It generally seems to be a crossed connection in the brain cortex responsible for letter recognition.

Generally it fades during the Easyread process, but if it is persistent then the routine we recommend is to get four cards with the B, D, Bear and Duck on them and just cycle through them slowly,  concentrating on the correct *sound* for each of the four.

If you do that several times before the lesson for a few days I think you will find it clearing up.

There are three possible reasons for this:

1. The text is too small and you need to make it bigger in the story settings. If that helps, it is essential to do some eye tracking exercises.

2. Your child is rushing a bit and not looking at the text carefully enough. Encourage a “newsreader” style of reading with maximum accuracy, rather than going for speed.

3. Your child is still sight-reading the words rather than decoding them all. As in option 2, push for maximum accuracy as the goal each day.

Although a diagnosis of dyslexia can seem worrying, there are many reasons why you should feel the reverse.

First, we find most dyslexics can learn to read well once they have been given support that fits the way their brain works. We find that our very visual presentation of the auditory information works particularly well with them.

Second, the person with dyslexic tendencies often has tremendous corresponding strengths. Many of the greatest minds and most creative thinkers have been dyslexic.

For instance, it is common for dyslexics to see the “Big Picture” in things very easily (like data sets, or problem solving scenarios), to have great three dimensional understanding and strong graphic-spatial skills. They can often see the patterns others miss, making them good entrepreneurs, or engineers, or politicians!

I think you will be pleased with how much improvement you see with our visual phonics system.

Is your question about your facilitator role: what you can do to help your child in the system or outside the system?

Yes. The system is designed to be done with an adult facilitator. We cannot unconditionally guarantee a good result if the child does the lessons unaccompanied.

In Phase 1, it’s a phone call just with you, the person supporting the learner for the lessons.

In Phase 2, we’ll ask you to book a guided online lesson over Zoom. For this, we’ll need your child to be present to do the lesson.

There are no extra fees on top of the Easyread memberhip – ever. Our unlimited support is included.

Just a good Internet connection. You will receive a Zoom link in your booking confirmation email. That is the online meeting space where we will help you set up the screen share.

If you are not in the meeting at the given time, we will call you on the phone to help get things set up. It will take about 2 minutes and requires zero technical skills!

For the first month or so, we recommend just focusing on Easyread (besides normal school homework). We will be building confidence and skills during that period. At around the 6 week mark, you can start to introduce outside reading if you want. But it is totally optional. The 15 minutes of Easyread every day is enough.

Up to you! Most teachers are thrilled that parents are doing outside work on Easyread. Since the system is phonetically-based, it aligns well with most school literacy curriculums.

The codeword message system is designed to help us make sure your learner is getting the maximum benefit from the course and is on track for the best possible outcome.

Every time you enter a codeword, we will send a prize in the mail, and we’ll also send you a message with some top tips relevant to that point in the course. The message will include some questions for you to answer, so that we can check your child is on track and give you further advice where necessary.

There is quite a lot to cover in Phase 1 (lessons 1-14) so you’ll find rather a lot of messages at that point. After that there is a codeword every 20 lessons or so, on average.

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