remedial reading program


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Areas of use of the Duffy Method


1) As a remedial program for both reading and spelling

... provided the students have adequate visual and auditory perception development and necessary attention skills.

Homogenous groups of no more than five can be taken through carefully-graduated steps with acquisition of the reading and then the spelling of words from the Duffy Charts. Full use of the eye and the ear is encouraged.

Words appropriate to the age and stage of the group can be chosen from Word Streams for reading and then spelling, followed by reading aloud from suitable texts.

Individual tuition allows for faster progress as it enables recognition of areas that are known and therefore time is not wasted on them.

Pre-testing enables the determination of which sections of the Duffy Charts need to be used.


2) As a remedial program for spelling

Many people acquire adequate reading skills because sentence structure enables prediction of any unfamiliar words. Spelling on the other hand must be done in isolation. When there is an understanding of the linguistic background of English such as Duffy provides, difficulties due to poor visual or auditory memory can often be overcome.

Since the mid-1960s when spelling was no longer taught as in previous years, there are many adults, including tertiary-trained people, who cannot spell well.

While modern spell checkers are sometimes helpful, knowledge of the Duffy Charts could help to overcome many problems, particularly those associated with homonyms - e.g. there are five ways of spelling the pour sound. As pointed out by English educator Marion Peters many years ago, "spelling must be taught, not caught".


3) As an adjunct to current methods of teaching English as a Second Language

  • A complete knowledge of the letters of the alphabet, both upper and lower case, is the first prerequisite prior to the teaching of English.

  • An overall presentation of this language, incorporating the history of its development, may be appropriate depending on the level of understanding already gained. Many people have fair verbal skills but very few word attack skills and little idea of the reason for the variety in English spelling which is not found in other languages.

  • Mastery of the vowels can be particularly difficult for those with an Asian background. Use of the introductory Chart 1 must be done very carefully and only when it is clear that the five short vowels are known should the Donkey Chart be introduced.

  • Use of audio-visual aids is recommended to assist with the pronunciation of words such as salt and bald where the short vowel a is no longer pronounced in its original form.

  • Syllables such as tion from French are difficult for some to pronounce the English way. Experience with a group at Curtin University several years ago showed that the examples in Chart 5 - The Stairway Chart can be very helpful.


This website presented by
educational psychologist
Judith Gleeson
B.A., M.Ed, T.C.
duffy remedial reading



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