Evidence demonstrating the value of the proper use of the Duffy Charts
Examples since the 1970s...
In 1976, Michael Stock from the Canberra Technical College conducted a Duffy course over 10 hours. The spelling of carpentry and joinery students improved by 1.7 years. Five secretarial studies students gained 2.9 years and some high ability students improved by 4.02 years.
In 1980, Judith Gleeson conducted a research project as part of a Masters Degree in Education at James Cook University of Northern Queensland. Forty poor spellers from Year 7 classes in a Townsville primary school were nominated by their teachers to take part.
Pre-tests determined the 20 students who were of average ability with spelling scores of two years or more below average. They were randomly assigned to two groups and the experimental group was randomly assigned to two groups of five.
Ten one hour lessons using the Duffy Charts and booklets were conducted between May 26 and June 25. The second post test on August 5 showed long-term retention for five of the students ranging from 19 to 35 months, an average of 26.6 months (the other five students were found to suffer from a variety of learning disabilities and required more intense holistic therapy).
Case study 1
Richard, aged 12 years 9 months, had a reading age of only 8 years 1 month with frequent guesses such as hounds as hours and escape as except. His spelling age was 9 years 7 months, a retardation of more than three years. Errors such as safty for safety, mastcae for mistake and indivegal for individual indicated a lack of phonic skills. Following ten one hour lessons after school over five weeks, his reading age jumped to 12 years 4 months (a gain of 39 months) and his spelling age rose to 11 years 10 months (a gain of 27 months).
Richard had gained an understanding of Old English words such as hear and lamb, Greek ones such as chemistry, photograph and mystery, and a few from French such as colonel and debris. The English language now made sense to him and his mother reported to me that "his attitude to school work has improved dramatically".
Case study 2
There were similar results when I worked with Andrew, a 25 year old who had endured many changes of schools and was actually frightened by words. He came for lessons with his girlfriend Sue. I explained what the Duffy Method was all about - that it provides an understanding of English and does not rely solely on memory as do most remedial programs.
He was apprehensive at first but with Sue reinforcing each lesson he made rapid progress. Once he understood the message from the Donkey Chart (one of 12 charts devised by Duffy) which teaches the Latin stream, he was well on his way. After the fourth lesson he spent some time at home writing a description of a day in the life of a tomato picker, saying "Now I understand words I thought I might as well start using them".
In a follow-up study one year after holiday courses of seven hours in the Duffy Centre, one mother reported her eight year old was "now capable at grade level and feels confident to go on".
The mother of an older child wrote: "We have had very good reports from her teacher that all her studies have improved. We have been asked by the principal and teacher which reading school she went to".
In the 12-13 year range: "The child gained confidence in himself, therefore relaxing and absorbing more of the lesson. He progressed from remedial class to above average".
In the 14+ range, a boy's father wrote: "Better command and usage of words and spelling. More confident and English teacher pleased with his improvement".
The Country Women's Association in Western Australia sponsored several teachers and many children to attend holiday courses at the Duffy Centre in Perth.
English as a Second Language
The Duffy Method is very useful when teaching English as a second language.
I taught a group of five 13 year old boys, two of whom were from Thailand. In no time at all they were sounding out and spelling words correctly and had to ask their classmates for the meanings. Similar results were achieved when teaching English as a second language to a group at a local university. Pronunciation of vowels proved difficult for those of Asian background and a Frenchman found it very difficult to pronounce nation the English way as this word, and many more containing the suffix tion, comes from the French.
These results were similar to those achieved in the school holiday courses conducted at the Duffy Centres in Sydney and Perth in 1972/73. A large number of those attending the Perth Centre were referred by guidance officers (school psychologists), attesting to the value of the tuition offered there.
1 Dr George Stern, professor of English at the Australian National University in Canberra, wrote: "A very novel, very striking and potentially very effective method. Fascinating really! The Donkey Chart is particularly brilliant".
2 Vivien Jolliffe, retired principal and former Teacher Development Officer of the Dyslexia-Speld Foundation, WA Inc: "Take another look at this special method. If you are a remedial teacher or anyone interested in the English language Dr Duffy's unique method of teaching reading and spelling is the perfect approach for you".
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B.A., M.Ed, T.C.