Improved Access to THRASS Synthetic Phonics Program has Potential to Increase Literacy Levels in the USA

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Access to the THRASS Family SING-A-LONG songs that have been heralded as an exciting new way of learning English, has just been greatly improved in the USA, meaning that there is now enormous potential for the songs, and the THRASS synthetic phonics programme more widely, to be used to improve literacy levels there.

You don't get pandas in Africa

Access to the THRASS Family SING-A-LONG songs that have been heralded as an exciting new way of learning English, has just been greatly improved in the USA, meaning that there is now enormous potential for the songs, and the THRASS synthetic phonics programme more widely, to be used to improve literacy levels there.

Research in the USA has shown that, while 99 per cent of people there over the age of 15 are able to write their name and read some words, up to 50 per cent may be functionally illiterate, a problem that is particularly severe among people of Hispanic origin. This means that they are unable to read well enough to understand a daily newspaper, a simple letter or even the instructions for using products that form part of everyday life. It also has enormous implications for employers and social service programmes, and is a contributing factor to poverty.

But the THRASS Family SING-A-LONG songs and the THRASS synthetic phonics programme more widely could now be about to change all this, as the SING-A-LONG songs have just been made available for download in mp3 format in the USA from the Children's Music section of the Amazon mp3 website and from the iTunes Music Store, making them far more accessible to everyone.

The THRASS (Teaching Handwriting Reading And Spelling Skills) synthetic phonics programme has been pioneered by British Educational Psychologist Alan Davies and helps learners to develop sound literacy skills by teaching them about the 44 phonemes (speech sounds) of spoken English and the 120 keygraphemes (spelling choices) of written English. It 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, and wherever it is used it surpasses all expectations. Using THRASS in a balanced language curriculum can more than double the normal rate of progress for learning reading and spelling for learners of all ages and abilities including dyslexics and those for whom English is not their first language.

It is widely accepted that music, and in particular singing, can have a wide range of benefits for children and also for older learners, the most important of which in the context of teaching literacy is that it can accelerate learning and improve the memory. Ever since they were launched at the beginning of 2008, teachers and parents just haven't been able to stop 'singing' the praises of the 44 SING-A-LONG songs, which they can sing with children to explain the 44 sounds and 120 main spelling choices of English, as an exciting new way of learning the language. The songs have memorable tunes in different musical styles and dance rhythms from around the world, such as African Round, Charleston, Hard Rock, Hawaiian, Irish Dance, Jazz, Ragtime, Reggae, Twist and Waltz, and wonderful imaginative titles such as "The moon fell out of the sky", "A great big gorilla" and "You don't get pandas in Africa". They are real fun for both adults and children, give everyone a lift and really motivate children of all ages to learn.

Anyone who downloads the songs and listens to them will want to move on and develop the SING-A-LONG system of learning English, and there is a wide range of resources, including fantastic interactive software, to help them do this. The key resources are the 96-page THRASS SING-A-LONG Book and the Interactive Book, and there is also a sheet music book, a colouring book, an audio CD and a MOVE-A-LONG WITH SING-A-LONG DVD.

The THRASS Family SING-A-LONG songs are an ideal introduction to the THRASS programme and are used in thousands of schools across Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and the USA. They are currently being used with particular success to introduce THRASS to schools in Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

It is an indication of the significance of THRASS that in South Africa it is sponsored by Absa Bank, a member of the Barclays Group, through the THRASS Absa TalkTogether Project - and also by Henkel Pritt. In addition, the two-day THRASS Accredited Certificate is already a compulsory module for Foundation Phase student teachers at six South African universities.

The THRASS SING-A-LONG songs are available for download from the Children's Music section of iTunes on-line Music Stores in the United States, UK and Europe, and from Amazon mp3 in the United States. Amazon mp3 downloads can be played on any mp3 player or computer and on iTunes.

The THRASS extensive picture-based training website for schools and parents is at http://www.thrass.co.uk/teaching.htm

For information about THRASS SING-A-LONG, including a demonstration of the interactive book, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/sing-a-long.htm

For more information about mp3 downloads of the THRASS Family SING-A-LONG songs from Amazon mp3, and other SING-A-LONG resources, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/thrass_amazonmp3.htm

To see what can be achieved using SING-A-LONG and THRASS resources, view the videostreams on http://www.thrass.co.uk/holyrosary_limpopo.htm (South Africa), http://www.thrass.co.uk/wps08.htm (UK) and http://www.thrass.co.uk/zimbabwe0309.htm (Zimbabwe).

Issued by:
THRASS UK News Media Centre http://www.thrass.co.uk/nm.htm
Mike Meade, Media Director, +44 1829 741413 Mob: +44 7970 151 738
Chris Griffiths, International Development, +30 266 203 1723 or +44 151 324 5366

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CHRIS GRIFFITHS
THRASS
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