Phonetics-First Reading Instruction Really Works for K-1 English

By Thomas E. Zurinskas   (Note: for clickable links this page is at

 Teaching children how to read using phonetics has been accomplished in the past and always with success.  It’s the way to go for teaching children to read.   List here are three previous phonetics-first systems.  But the best way to go is with truespel phonetics.

  1. The Initial Teaching Alphabet (ITA), 1960’s,
  2. Unifon, in the 1970’s,
  3. IBM’s Writing to Read, in the 1980’s-00’s,

These systems are successful in advancing reading success but all were proprietary, expensive, and use special symbols, thus keyboard unfriendly.  They were meant to be forgotten beyond early grades.  Truespel is just the opposite – see .

 Truespel Advantage

Truespel is superior because it’s meant to last beyond initial teaching as a true pronunciation key replacing those in our dictionaries now.  It is a new phonetic standard which is keyboard and computer friendly, based on the lingua franca of the world, English.

 Discussion of similar systems  

The International Phonetic Alphabet, , is the old standard phonetic notation in use even today that covers all the speech sounds of all languages. The USA does not use it much because it is not keyboard or English friendly.  The “official?” US governmental phonetic notation has no name.  See

 The Initial Teaching Alphabet was designed for kids and can be seen at . (Clicking the side arrows shows many alternative notations)   The ITA is the first attempt at a phonetics- first reading method for k-1 kids, and it worked well.  It was developed in UK and in 46 states of USA.  But it’s replete with special symbols and thus is not keyboard friendly.

 Uniphon – For a detailed history and benefits see

Even with special symbols, 1st graders read regular text at 3rd grade level after Unifon training.  See the Unifon phonetic alphabet at

 Writing to Read – Was sponsored by IBM and used PC jrs for writing. Thousands of K-1 students learned to write as they learned to read. Results as tested by Princeton ETS showed much improvement beyond normal instruction.  See  .  Unfortunately uses a few special symbols and was proprietary and expensive.   Writing does improve reading. .

 Synthetic Phonics – is phonics rather than phonetics presently being implemented in UK. It introduces sounds to the K-1 learners then regular letters as a phonics basis to teach a phonetic-like approach. .  A recent longitudinal study of 270,000 UK students showed good results for all in early grades and especially for low performers and ESLs 

Children in k-1 crave phonetics - The 2017 Harvard study shows that lacking a "writable" phonetic system they make up their own "invented spelling" poetically. 

Cost of 3rd Grade Reading Failure  -  See the important need for early literacy 


Truespel is perfect for utilization for phonetics-first reading instruction.  It is a "writable" notation allowing typical capitalization and punctuation.  It has free tutorials over the internet and a free converter (See  It is easy to use and can be learned in weeks by k-1 kids and an hour by teachers and literate ESLs.  Trials are needed to develop many applications for instruction and phonemic awareness assessment.  My services as creator of truespel are free. 

 Contact      Thomas E. Zurinskas at   561-317-1908