The primary function of English spelling is to represent meaning. Approaching English spelling as a system whose primary function is to represent sound fails as soon as a reader encounters a letter or letters that do not spell a sound. Approaching English spelling as a system whose primary function is to represent meaning works for every spelling.
Teach a Student to Read (TASTR) developed in response to the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons reading program. Unlike phonics programs that erroneously posit that sounds correlate with letters in an alphabetic writing system, TASTR strives to teach the English writing system as fully and accurately as possible.
TASTR approaches the teaching of reading through the tenet that the primary function of English spelling is to express meaning. The program begins with the expectation that the reading student knows the letters of the English alphabet and then teaches the graphemes of the English spelling system. The student learns about the graphemes, digraphs, and trigraphs that can spell sounds. But not all letters spell sounds. Some letters are markers. Other letters are zeroed. The single final nonsyllabic <e>, which is the lynchpin of the English spelling system, is introduced in the first lesson. A student must understand that not all letters spell sounds as soon as learning to read begins.
In addition to English graphemes, TASTR also introduces word sums, prefixes, and suffixes. A word sum shows how a word is built. The student will learn the ways that prefixes and suffixes affect the spelling and pronunciation of words.
TASTR additionally includes information about some of the most common verbs in English as well as information about nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. A brief tutorial for uncovering the history of a word, and thus an explanation of the spelling, is included in the introduction.
Teach a Student to Read is not a phonics program. TASTR presents English orthography as fully and accurately as possible, thus giving a new reader the information needed to read and understand the spelling of any English word.
Most children learn to read between the ages of 6 and 7. Some children are ready at age 4 or 5. The recommended age range for this program is therefore between the ages of 4 and 8. This program is also recommended for older students who have been failed by other reading programs, specifically phonics programs.