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The THRASS English Phonics Test An Invaluable Tool for the English Language Testing of Immigrants and the Rehabilitation of Prisoners with Literacy Problems

  (May 12, 2011)

Chester, Cheshire, UK (PRWEB) May 12, 2011

The THRASS English Phonics Test software application has tremendous potential for improving literacy standards among learners of all ages and, because it provides a low-cost, simple solution for learning the building blocks of English words and then testing the understanding of these, there is considerable scope for using it as part of the UK Border Agencys English language testing for immigrants, and as part of the rehabilitation of prisoners and young offenders with literacy problems.

The THRASS (Teaching Handwriting Reading And Spelling Skills) synthetic phonics programme pioneered by British Educational Psychologist, Alan Davies, is used in thousands of schools and colleges in many countries, and is widely acknowledged as having the potential to more than double the rate of progress for reading and spelling in English, particularly amongst those for whom English is not their first language. THRASS helps learners to develop sound literacy skills by teaching them about the 44 phonemes (speech sounds) of spoken English and 120 graphemes (spelling choices) of written English and has been heralded as a revolutionary approach to teaching English that provides learners not just with handwriting, reading and spelling skills but also with valuable life skills training. Wherever it is used, it surpasses all expectations.

THRASS is a primarily a synthetic phonics programme, which means that it teaches learners of all ages and abilities to break down unfamiliar words into their component phonemes or graphemes and to then use these to blend or synthesise words. But THRASS also draws on the principles of analytic phonics, which means that it is far more effective than programmes that rely purely on synthetic phonics because it also encourages learners to use words that they know to help them read and/or spell other words, which is how most people learnt to read and spell in the first place (for example the word 'catch' can help learners read match, thatch and snatch, and also, surprisingly, watch because it stands out as being different) and thereby teaches them to see the bigger picture. The problems caused by not being able to see the bigger picture are widespread in schools in England, where teachers are not trained to help children to do so. The result is that after their early reading success, older primary school pupils do not continue to make the progress required to equip them for their entry into secondary education.

The English Phonics Test software application that Alan Davies has recently developed as part of the THRASS programme provides a low-cost, simple way to teach and then subsequently test children and adults, working either on their own or in a group. The application uses 120 keywords (each with a memorable picture) to progressively introduce, revise and test knowledge of the sounds and key spelling choices. It has seven modules: the interactive Picturechart that introduces and revises the keywords; Teaching Levels 1-5 that introduce and revise the sounds and key spelling choices and all have timed practices; and the interactive Word Bank that allows users to re-create the keywords and also to create thousands of other words. In the Test the 120 keywords must be spelt in the fastest possible time and each key spelling choice selected from 120 possibilities. The user is then given a Grade and Star Rating ranging from a Grade A (7 Star) performance, which indicates an excellent level of understanding for the sounds and key spelling choices of English, if the test has been completed within 30 minutes, to a Grade G (1 Star) performance, if the test has been completed within the maximum time of one hour, or Grade H, if the test was not completed within the time limit.

The English Phonics Test, which is also marketed as Sound It Out, is currently being trialled with children, teachers and parents in primary schools in England, Wales, South Africa and Zimbabwe. A deputy headteacher at a state primary school in England wrote, All our staff have now completed the English Phonics Test. They were extremely competitive, which was amusing for all to see, and some did it more than once because they were not happy with their time! A small group of parents at the school is now running regular workshops to introduce other parents to the software so they, too, have a better understanding of the building blocks of English words and feedback from these has been excellent. And a teacher of 7 year-olds at a private school in South Africa wrote, "This is absolutely amazing! Im not sure how I am going to persuade the children that we have to do other subjects and cannot spend the entire day doing Sound It Out!.

The English Phonics Test application and the Sound It Out software enable learners to better segment and blend unfamiliar English words before learning to read, spell and pronounce them, and to better recognise the similarities and differences in groups of words. Both are readily accessible to all sectors of the community and both are easily affordable options, with the English Phonics Test application for iPad and Android tablets costing £2.39 and the Sound It Out software for PC and Mac computers costing only £5 + VAT for each computer or £50 + VAT for any number of computers connected to the same server.

To find out more about the English Phonics Test application and the Sound It Out software, visit

For information about the requirement for many immigrants marrying UK citizens and wishing to live in the UK to prove that they have a command of English, visit

Issued by: THRASS UK News Media Centre

Mike Meade, Media Director, +44 1829 741413 Mob: +44 7970 151 738
Chris Griffiths, International Development, +44 1513 243458 Mob: +30 698 101 8036


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