What is Speech to Print?

Traditional phonics starts with the 26 letters of the alphabet and assigns a single sound to each letter.  In our English language, however, while there might be 26 letters in the alphabet, there are approximately 44 different sounds, and those sounds can be spelled in over 120 different ways.  

  A Speech-to-Print approach starts with whole words that children already have in their spoken vocabularies -- words like "cat," "stop," and "clock,"  – and focuses first on the individual sounds (or phonemes) that make up those words.  We do this by assisting the child to "unglue," or segment, the phonemes within words, in their left to right sequence.  We then give them the letter(s) to map to each sound in the sequence, and guide them to read the whole word, blending the sounds from beginning to end.

The human brain is not wired for reading -- but it is wired to recognize patterns that we see with repeated exposure.  Learning to read involves creating a neural pathway between the part of our brain that processes sound and the part that processes what we see.  A Speech-to-Print approach helps build that connection between our auditory and visual processing centers.

As we learn to read, and over and over again map sounds to letters to create words, that neural pathway becomes stronger and stronger.  In the process, we begin to recognize and internalize the spelling patterns that create all the words that we will read and learn in our lifetimes.  

A Speech to Print approach understands that reading is an auditory process first.  We hear the sounds in words; then we learn to visualize them as letter-patterns, sequenced from left to right.  Approaching reading in this way strengthens the neural pathways that enable decoding the written word.  Students become stronger readers, writers, and spellers.


Further Reading

Nora Chahbazi, the founder and director of EBLI, provides a comprehensive overview of what Speech-to-Print reading & phonics instruction looks like, as well as how and why it works. Speech-to-Print vs. Print-to-Speech

Nicki Prati, a parent searching for reading help for her daughter, started this Facebook page on the Speech-to-Print reading and phonics approach.  She now has almost 8,000 followers.   

The entire January 2023 issue of Dystinct magazine is devoted to the Speech-to-Print approach to reading and phonics instruction.  "Dystinct was launched in 2021 as a resource for the families and educators of children and young people with learning difficulties."     

Please let me know if you have further questions about the Speech-to-Print approach to reading success!