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Comments and feedback about the course

Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2015 10:20 am
by debbie
Please post your feedback here (or please give me permission to copy and paste your feedback when you write your email messages to me!).

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 10:34 am
by debbie
I thought I'd better add some feedback comments or why bother starting a thread on this topic!

Just received this lovely comment this morning which prompted me to add it here:
Thank you for your course and the passion and thoroughness of your presentation.

Posted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 8:20 am
by debbie
First posted via facebook 'Phonics Training Online':
Really enjoyed 'Two- staged Teaching Model' and 'Two pronged ' approach found it really inspiring
Further, this teacher wrote:

Thank you. I've been teaching for 18 years and I truly believe this course is really helping me become a better and more passionate teacher.

Posted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:10 am
by debbie
Feeling grateful and humbled to receive this testimonial:
This online training is a must for every teacher. The pace, information, research and clear and concise messages are evidence based, tried and tested ways to teach a systematic, synthetic phonics program.

The included resources for each unit are comprehensive and engaging for all learners. There is nothing that Debbie has not thought of for the teacher in the classroom. You can walk away tomorrow with a plan in mind ready to go.

I cannot recommend this online training highly enough. I have had many light bulb moments and as a teacher I have learnt so many things to enhance my teaching, planning and assessment cycle. These modules are self paced and include downloadable notes to refer back to later. I am forever changed and cannot thank Debbie Hepplewhite and Phonics International enough for supporting my learning and metamorphosis as a new and more informed teacher and leader.

Posted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:01 am
by debbie
I received this personal comment from an experienced teacher of teaching English as an additional (new) language with the Systematic Synthetic Phonics Teaching Principles (my version of them):
I enjoyed the course so much that I was sad to see it end!

A true masterpiece!!
So... I asked for an actual review and received this interesting commentary:
I still have some notes to work out and I have made a beautiful folder with some print outs, my notes and some tips I liked.

At first, it took me some time to warm up, but later I got hooked.

I really loved the detailed way you explain everything and it is so nice to hear your voice and not just read the information. I particularly liked Module 6 part 2. Although I was not far in my provision from your suggestions on decoding, it still made me aware of some mistakes and looked into becoming even more critical and how important it is to be clear on what it is you are doing (which of the core skills).

I also like the emphasis you´ve put on the pair classes. It is so important to review and revisit and to always have the phonics knowledge for incidental revision and teaching. (unfortunately, many teachers still lack confidence).

As you might remember I have relocated in ............ but I have worked at ........... as a phonics teacher and later consultant for reception and primary for many years. Looking back, we didn´t provide enough practice and the difficulty to get the whole school on board and all teachers well trained.

We were doing quite well in reception, Y1 and Y2 but as from Y3 it became an occasional thing and they went back to multi-cueing habits.

I hung AC [Alphabetic Code Chart] in all classrooms, teacher room and organized training, observed classes and modeled classes on completely different topics but with incidental reference to the AC to show them how to connect it with the wider curriculum and help the students remember their accumulated phonic knowledge from prior years.

I also tried to involve parents. But I can not say I succeeded as much as I would have like to.

So, all you said made so much sense to me and it soothes my pain to know that even in the UK it took time.

I do have some more notes with some questions, but I do not have enough time now to write them all down. There is one important one (talking about EFL students): You know how some phonemes have so many alternatives and how especially the vowels are so unreliable. I experienced that even children who really had the picture very clear still found it confusing to remember all of them. I realize the importance of the classroom display, and the reading habit play a huge role, but we used to stop at some point giving them more systematic teaching of more alternatives (for example we would leave the ae and ey for /ai/ out). The trouble is that the "regular" teacher didn´t follow up and kept on recycling the other 6 alternatives, so with time they started forgetting and even mixing them up. How to go about getting the upper-level teacher to see the importance of referring back to prior knowledge.

Well, I will write you some more another day.

Take care and keep up the good work!
I really appreciate this level of feedback and what it means to individual teachers in their own settings.

This feedback is indicative of how hard it is to bring colleagues on board, and for all teachers to have sufficient personal knowledge and understanding about the English alphabetic code, and how to teach it effectively not just as the mother tongue, or first language, but as a new, second or additional language - also how to keep supporting the main teaching of 'English' through the wider curriculum (incidental phonics provision). In many schools, please note, children are taught in two languages via a split curriculum - or the language of the 'school' and formal exams are not the children's mother-tongue.

What an immense all-round challenge so many teachers and children face!

I need to emphasise that this is all about CONTINUOUS professional development.

And this includes for me too.....!

Posted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 4:20 pm
by debbie
This feedback is great to receive:

As a student teacher, there is often little input into phonics teaching except a few subject knowledge input sessions. However, Phonics International's online course has really helped me grasp so many vital concepts relating to phonics. It's so clear, easy to use and very well explained throughout. It's also really handy to have the printable information to return to as and when it is needed. I really feel that this training is one of the most useful CPD courses I have participated in. Thank you Debbie x
We are working with a leading SSP university who is currently trialling our online course with a large number of student-teachers with a view to getting their feedback on how helpful the course is for trainee teachers.


Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:09 pm
by debbie
So great to receive this lovely comment via Twitter!
loving your online course debbie, so thorough and well resourced, many thanks

Posted: Wed May 25, 2016 2:47 pm
by debbie
Received this kind comment via Twitter:
just finished your online course, Debbie. feel much more informed &confident now. The resources are so thorough too. many thanks

Posted: Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:44 am
by debbie
We just received this request and kind comment:

Lately, I would also like to request that I am able to continue to access the notes and recordings in particular going forward so that I could go to areas where I need information or clarification or review of the work complete with the Phonic Training course.

Thank you for an immensely beneficial course.
To confirm:

People registered to our Phonics Training Online course have access to the videos of the training content for a year generally, but if they hadn't finished the course in that time of course we'll arrange for longer access.

We are often asked 'how long' it will take to complete our course, but that is entirely dependent on how much time course participants give to the course in their own time-scale. There are about 20 hours of audio-video plus access to additional pertinent links and resources.

Posted: Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:21 am
by debbie
I am a Learning Support teacher working with Year 3, 4 and 5 students and LOVING the complete Phonics International set up. Thank you so very, very much! Debbie you are so very generous with your resources.

Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2016 12:04 am
by debbie
This is a comment via Twitter about the course - and of course I'm looking forward to the feedback at the end of the course!
I have started it and can say it is brilliant!!

Posted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:18 pm
by debbie
I received some lovely feedback about use of the PI resources and asked if i could use this on the 'feedback forum':
I love the online training course, and I am very happy for you to cut and paste my comments on the feedback forum.

I hope I will be able to help a few more children and parents to learn to read using the knowledge I have gained. I'll let you know how it is going.
This is part of the original message:
...I have used the material on the Phonics international to very successfully teach my daughter to read, write and spell...

I would also like to let you know that I am absolutely delighted with how confidently she reads and how eager she is to write. The material is wonderful and even though I am not a trained teacher, I am amazed at how clear and simple it is. It is incredible how it empowers me and enables me to teach my children. We are rejoining school in the UK in September and I am fairly positive that even now my 5 year old, who enters Year 1 in September will have no problem passing the Year 1 Phonics test or even better becoming a reader for life.

Posted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 11:10 pm
by debbie
Whilst this is positive feedback about my online course, it is nevertheless a very sad set of circumstances - and, unfortunately, not untypical of many schools not only in England but in other English-speaking countries:

Dear Debbie,

I'm very interested in all that you have to say about phonics teaching in schools and I've completed your course. Your views totally reflect my views which have developed out of many years experience as a T/A, trained in Dyslexia support. However, my opinions are not listened to. This has made me very frustrated and quite angry as I feel that I don't have a voice!

Our recent inspection rated us as good, and for some it seems, that is enough. However, it was noted that we need to improve in reading. My views exactly. I am keen to share and discuss PI with our senior leaders, but it seems they do not wish to, nor have the time to listen. We are a primary school with a large percentage of EAL children; many with non English speaking parents. We would, therefore, benefit enormously from teaching phonics well, throughout the key stages. I can see this as the only way to improve the literacy.

I strongly feel that the children have the right to be taught phonics fully. I spend my days trying to undo bad reading habits and teach phonics in structured, cumulative programmes. Sadly, I've witnessed children leaving school in year 6 with very low reading ages. Still, we are training our staff to use Fischer Family Trust, a clone of Reading Recovery. Some children have had this intervention three times, with little or no effect in their progress. I have tried to express my views on this intervention to the advisor but have been shouted down. They continue to recommend it as the most effective intervention.

Your course has helped me enormously with my wave 3 interventions and I am so pleased that at last, after many years, there is support out there. I am very happy to support IFERI in whatever way I can and do whatever it takes to further this important cause.

Thank you for listening.

IFERI = The International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction - see this blog posting about the persistence of promoting the multi-cueing reading strategies:
When phonics falls on deaf ears ... philipson/

Posted: Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:24 pm
by debbie
This gentleman contacted us with a technical question about the course and in replying, I asked if he was enjoying the course. I was so pleased to receive his detailed feedback and history as to why he chose to register for Phonics Training Online. He replied:

I am most definitely enjoying the course and have gained an immense amount of knowledge from it. I originally found you because I astonishingly discovered that my students here in China did not know phonics and actually were never even taught phonics in the first place.

I couldn’t even fathom learning English without learning phonics since that is what I was taught by my mother and when I was in school in the early 1970s in the U.S. I had never heard of whole language or multi-cueing reading strategies. But, I had discovered that my Chinese students could only say whole words and were always trying to guess the words which I thought was very strange.

Therefore, I decided that in order for my students to truly learn English and not struggle so much as I witnessed them do all the time to no avail, I was going to have to teach them phonics myself. I searched online for a long time trying to find the best phonics teaching method and somehow I found your website and started with your free trial e-book, “Alphabet Code and Phonics Skills.� I think the first one or two units were free on a trial basis and then if I liked the course, then I could buy the rest of the units which were a total of 8 units.

I decided to try it out and experiment with my private students first and use them as “guinea pigs.� As I went through unit 1, I discovered that the students were actually starting to read and write, but I mean truly read and write like they were supposed to. It was like magic! I was sold! So I bought the rest of the units and have been using them ever since.

Now, with your course I am really honing my teaching skills and understanding the context of all of this whole language and multi-cueing reading which is easy for me to see how it is complete garbage because I see it every day with the Chinese students I have here at my university.

Thank you so much for carrying the torch of the synthetic phonics cause and educating teachers about this because now I understand that many teachers now don’t really appreciate the importance of teaching phonics.

Now I understand why so many students in America are failing and are functionally illiterate despite having graduated from high school.
I am always so grateful and humbled by such feedback but it is very important to learn of all these 'findings' in different contexts around the world.

So many people in different countries and contexts are teaching English as a second or additional language and it is very important indeed that we fully appreciate the various challenges that this involves.

How can it be, then, that I'm suggesting the same professional knowledge and understanding, and the same phonics resources, can suit every context around the world?

Sir Jim Rose explained this in his historic report on teaching children to read when he pointed out that it is EXACTLY THE SAME ENGLISH ALPHABETIC CODE AND PHONICS SKILLS that learners need to acquire - and it is better for them to be taught explicitly than to 'ferret out the code' for themselves.

This means that the better the 'body of work' (and guidance) that supports the teacher to teach the learners, the more likely that the learners will learn effectively - for both reading and writing.

The 8 eBooks that this gentleman is referring to can be found here:

If you're interested, don't miss the pdf with the explanation for the Series of 8 eBooks:

As of September 2016, however, working with two different publishers (one based in England, one based in Pakistan), I have developed some of my Phonics International core resources into nine hard copy Pupil Books with nine parallel Teacher Books. You can view some video footage of this new material here - and see some Year One children in action trialling this new hard copy series:


I shall soon have free-access PowerPoints with information and guidance for the new series of nine books!

Added June 2017 to this message - plenty of information, video footage and training PowerPoints for the developed hard copy series 'No Nonsense Phonics Skills' available via this link: ... cs-skills/

Posted: Sun Sep 11, 2016 10:50 pm
by debbie
I was really pleased to receive both the positive feedback and the questions from this student of Phonics Training Online and thought the questions and my answers worth sharing more widely so, as always, I asked if I could share them on my 'feedback' forum:

Dear Debbie Hepplewhite,

I would like to thank you very much for this wonderful and enlightening course. I learned a lot from you.

I have a few questions. The first is technical and the others professional.

1) I registered to this course on 14th September 2015. However, I only started it this July and finished it a few weeks ago. Is it possible to get an extension? I would really appreciate it if I could listen again to some of the modules and access the resources.

2) I live in Israel and work as a one-on-one English tutor. I usually teach older kids, but last year I started teaching first graders who never studied English before. English is a foreign language (EFL) in Israel and is usually taught at the age of 7. As you probably know, the Hebrew alphabet is different from the Latin alphabet, so Israeli pupils need to learn not only the letters' sounds but also their shapes. The question is how I introduce the alphabet for the first time ever?

The textbooks which are used in Israeli schools don't introduce the letters in alphabetical order. In one of the textbooks, the first unit starts with the letters Bb, Aa, Gg, Pp, Ee and for each letter there are pictures of words with the initial sound. For example, Bb: boy, balloon, blue, banana, Ben. Aa: apple, avocado, ambulance, astronaut, Alex. Some of these words are cognates. As the lessons progress, students learn to write the letters and read short letter combinations such as: ab, bab, ag, bag etc. (words and non-words).

I don't know if that is the proper order to introduce the alphabet for the first time ever. I think perhaps it's better to introduce the letters in alphabetical order since most Israeli students are familiar with the ABC Song. Even if they can't identify each letter, they can sing the song and return to the song to recall the letter's name and sound (obviously doesn't work with all letters).

Apart from the order, I teach the letters similarly to the textbook I mentioned above: I usually teach one letter a lesson and use pictures of words with the initial sound. I also use short videos of the ABC from I teach the letter's name, sound and shape (writing) during the same lesson. As the lessons progress, students learn to read short letter combinations (words and non-words).

My plan was to teach reading according to the Alphabetic Code only the following year after the students are familiar with the letters and gained some oral vocabulary. Do you think the alphabetical order is significant?

3) Could you please recommend me an internet site or a textbook that teaches synthetic phonics for ESL/ EFL students?
I replied:

Thank you so much for your kind words about my online training course. I hope you don’t mind if I add them to my ‘feedback’ thread here:


Please let me know if you are happy for me to copy and paste your feedback?

I have forwarded your query to David as he manages the technical side of the course. I know that he will be very happy to extend your access to the course. We do everything we can to support people.

Re your questions about teaching the alphabet letters before starting a systematic synthetic phonics programme with a different order of introduction letter/s-sound correspondences – I think it is a very good idea.

So much so, that I have just (literally) completed two books with this design – introducing the alphabet letters in the Aa Bb Cc order and linking them to the sounds, and introducing the phonics skills and sub-skills. You might find these books useful or at least they will give you some ideas for your pupils.

Have you signed up for our free eTutorials and newsletters? If not, please consider doing so because we shall be sending out information about our latest resources including the two new alphabet and phonics books. You can find the registration on the homepage of if you scroll down to lower on the page.

Finally, why do you not think that Phonics International is suitable for contributing to teaching English as a second language, or foreign language? Of course the teacher needs to be able to provide lots of additional speaking and listening but many people use Phonics International for EFL purposes. The teacher can be selective about ‘how many’ of the words in the cumulative, decodable word banks need to be explained as new vocabulary (you don’t need to teach all the words when English is a new language but the pupils will still get the technical practice of applying their phonics knowledge and skill of blending for reading).

You ask if I think that alphabetical order is significant – yes I do.

Learners need to know about the alphabet and also about the alphabetic code.

I have covered this in the online course but I’ll get David to extend your access and perhaps you can revisit at least some of the Modules to refresh your memory.

Today was a special day because Raintree Publishing launched a hard copy version of my work to their sales team. If you have not seen the video footage of the ‘No Nonsense Phonics Skills’ programme, you might be interested, see here:


The reason I’m telling you this is because there were two ladies at the event who work internationally and they were very interested in the two books that start linking the alphabet letters with early phonics as they said they would be very appropriate for the circumstances you describe!

So, do keep in touch and, again, I’m so pleased that you’ve found my course helpful.

Best wishes,

And then I received a further message in this exchange of information:
Dear Debbie,

Thank you so much for your prompt reply.

You are more than welcome to add my comment to the ‘feedback’ thread.

After reading some of the other comments, I can only agree with them all. The passion and thoroughness with which you present the course and your generosity with your resources are unparalleled! I also enjoyed listening to your voice and not just reading the information.

Thank you for agreeing to extend my access to the course. It’s so heartwarming to realize that there are people like you whose job is their vocation, and who are so supportive and considerate.

I do think that Phonics International is suitable for teaching ESL/ EFL students. I just needed help with the previous stage of introducing the alphabet, linking them to the sounds and introducing the phonics skills. Amazingly, this is exactly the content of your two new books! I’m so happy and can’t wait to purchase them! I signed up for the newsletters, but do you have an estimate as to when the books are available for purchase?

Debbie, thank you again for everything! I’m really grateful. I don’t believe in superstitions, but I feel so lucky to have come across your site and get to know you. It seems to me unbelievable that when I considered traveling to England to one of your workshops, you opened the online training course and now, when I am desperate for information about introducing the alphabet, you’ve just completed two books on the subject!

I wish you all the best and thanks again.
This was certainly a synchronistic scenario.

When I have information available about the latest two books which can be used prior to a full systematic synthetic phonics programme, I'll add an electronic link to this message.

Added June 2017 to this message - information and PowerPoint about the two 'Phonics and Talk Time' books: