Bannatyne Reading, Writing, Spelling and Language Program

Third Edition



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What else do you think has been ineffectual about traditional reading and spelling programs?

1. Teaching through failure: Traditional programs are usually based on teaching-through-testing so that initial failure is built into them. For example, the student starts to read in a reader and when that student incorrectly reads (i.e., fails to read) a word the teacher then teaches it. But should not the correct words have been first taught thoroughly so that depressing failure is minimized? Similarly in spelling; a list of words is given to the students to learn at home on the simplistic assumption that parents can teach spelling or that students can teach themselves to spell well. It is also assumed that learning to spell words is a simple memory process anyone can accomplish with a modicum of effort when, in fact, some dozens of sensory-motor, psycho-linguistic and neurological processes are involved--especially in a language with irregular orthography such as English.

2. Almost all traditional reading programs ignore the fact that language is primarily auditory-vocal: Traditional programs are usually based on first teaching through the printed word (sometimes on the chalkboard) and then, even if immediately, moving to the spoken/heard word. For example, the teacher will write a word on the chalkboard first and then (second) pronounce it and perhaps say its meaning. But, this is back-to-front. Why? Because the auditory/vocal word is the primary natural one, while the printed symbols (the sequence of graphemes that represent it) are only directly associated with their auditory/vocal counterparts, the phonemes--not the word's meaning. The Bannatyne Program starts with (a) the auditory-vocal words and (b) teaches their meanings conversationally before (c) teaching their component phonemes, and (d) the visual/motor printed symbols (graphemes) are introduced--all in that correct linguistic order.

Back in 1973, I wrote a book entitled, "Reading: An Auditory-Vocal Process."  My purpose for writing it was to bring out the fundamental importance of the auditory-vocal processing of language intrinsically involved in reading, spelling and writing (supported by much valid research) at a time when so-called "sight-based-look-and-say" methods were so popular. More recently "whole-language" methods and "synchronized listening-reading" programs have been introduced. But these unstructured, holistic, indivisible approaches to reading are akin to someone trying to teach mathematics by randomly placing the numbers 1 to 100 in rows in front of students along with the signs for adding, subtraction, division, multiplication and decimals (together with some unexplained examples of calculations) and then asking them to work it all out for themselves. Some bright students might "get it," but all the mathematically less-well-endowed children would be baffled and bewildered. Yet this chaotic "you-work-it-all-out-for-yourselves" is just what many teachers are doing when they use "sight-based-look-and-say" methods, "whole-language" methods, and "synchronized listening-reading" programs. Mostly it is the less-verbally-able students in the bottom-half of classes who suffer from these un-researched, inefficient methods.

3. Scrambled, randomly-presented phonemes, graphemes, words, blends, digraphs, syllables, grammar, spellings, multiple meanings, comprehension and punctuation: Traditional programs are usually based on no underlying linguistic, orthographical structure, and even when some structure appears to be there it is usually superficial and erroneously based. I could go through dozens of past and current programs that have purported to be the panacea and explain in detail their numerous basic errors and assumptions, and why they failed to eradicate illiteracy. Also these programs have never even taken into account the neuropsychology of the lower one third of school students who find it difficult to learn to read fluently and to spell correctly. Most of these traditional programs started with some "bright idea" in a reading professor's head, and most reading professors seem to have had sparse groundings in psycholinguistics, neuropsychology, student motivation, language research, systems research and detailed task-analyses. Still less often are teachers, even specialist reading teachers, taught any such information. Most educators in the field of reading ignore all the bountiful published research out there in psycholinguistics, neuropsychology, student motivation, method comparison research, language research, systems research and detailed task-analyses. Even the better programs tend to pick out what confirms their beliefs about reading and ignore the rest; still less do they integrate it all meaningfully into one sequential, integrated, interlaced, task-analyzed whole as does the Bannatyne Program.

4. Traditional lockstep Grade (or Standard) levels of keeping the whole class learning the same material at the same pace are the cause of many learning deficits and poor motivation in students: Most schools and classes still adhere to a rigid lockstep system of learning which causes many more problems in students than it "cures" for teachers, testers and administrators. Many highly verbal children can progress at a much faster rate than the middle range of the class or group. I once taught a class of ten-year-olds who were taught in smaller groups, each group pacing itself at its own rate-of-learning in all subjects. One bright girl who was extremely verbally competent was voluntarily reading a sociology book at university level (she had found it in the school library) by mid-year, but in a traditional lock-step system she would have been bored out of her mind. Yet she was only good average in mathematics and was in the middle group in that subject. In the less verbally competent language/reading group I was able to improve reading ages rapidly by a highly structured method of teaching reading which many years later I further developed into the Bannatyne Program.

I would only add that, over the years, I have taught elementary school children of all kinds and ages on the classroom floor as a teacher, so I am not speaking as some "pie-in-the-sky" professor who has never left the "ivory towers." I have also remediated learning disabled students of all kinds and ages (K-12-adult) for decades, including emotionally disturbed and court-ordered students.


Surely we need different reading programs for different kinds of students?  How can you possibly claim that the Bannatyne Program succeeds with every type of student?

The Bannatyne Program was deliberately created to include all the proven methods and techniques (from around the world for over a century) for effectively teaching reading, writing, spelling and language to all kinds of students with IQs from 65 through 150, with all regular school children, with all types of handicaps and ethnic backgrounds, with every kind of learning style, and with all age levels from 4 to 70 years. The only requirement is that they can speak and understand simple sentences.

I would like to emphasize that this topic is not a matter for further speculation because, as a matter of empirical fact, for more than three decades the Bannatyne Program has already been used very successfully to teach all kinds of students with IQs from 65 through 150, with regular school children, with all types of handicaps and ethnic backgrounds, with every kind of learning style, and at all age levels from 4 years to 70. The successful results are in! See them for yourself in the Section titled "TESTIMONIALS AND RESEARCH."

The popular mythical idea that different kinds of reading programs are needed for different kinds of students arises from the fact that almost all OTHER programs are ineffective and incomplete in dozens of ways.

Let us compare the Bannatyne Program with almost all other programs.



Has over 88 techniques.

Have very few key techniques.

Totally bit-by-bit task-analyzed.

Are not task-analyzed.

Students are taught all content by the teacher before they use it.

Students are exposed to much content not yet taught by the teacher.

Multiple methods of motivation built-in.

Motivation is never (or rarely) built-in.

Logical linguistic and phonetic selection of specific sequential content.

Illogical and arbitrarily jumbled selection of program content.

Fully integrates reading/writing/spelling and language into one language system.

Fragment reading, writing, spelling and language into unlinked subjects.

Utilizes all the many kinds of sensory-motor-kinesthetic language functions.

Do not use the many kinds of sensory-motor-kinesthetic language functions.

Is based on in-depth studies of language, linguistics, phonetics, memory and the inter-related contributions of hearing, speaking, seeing and writing language.

Are based on an ignorance of language, linguistics, phonetics, memory and the inter-related contributions of hearing, speaking, seeing and writing language. 

Takes into account or utilizes multiple intelligences and IQs from 65 to 150.

Do not take into account or utilize multiple intelligences, or low IQs, or the gifted.

Is firmly based on extensive prior research and a wide range of interlaced researched techniques.

Are very rarely based on prior research,  but rather are founded on some single "brainwave" of the original author, or, more commonly, are merely a rehashed variation of an old single content theme, such as sight words, phonics, whole sentences, word-families, vision training, stories-from-day-one, etc.

NOTE that I did not originally intend to state these critical analyses of almost all other programs so bluntly because it is not my style, but as you asked me a direct question I have given a very direct answer. 


The Bannatyne Reading Program is an excellent, tested reading program. The Bannatyne Reading Program is unlike any other reading programs currently available. This means you will find many features which are only in the Bannatyne Reading Program. In some Commonwealth countries the program may be referred to as: Bannatyne Programme, or Bannatyne Reading Programme

Bannatyne Reading, Writing, Spelling and Language Program -- Copyright 2003-2006 Alexander Bannatyne, PhD

Last updated: April 1, 2006

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