CodeBreakers® Dyslexia Programme

CodeBreakers® …More than just phonics

When meeting students for the first time, often one of the things discussed will be checking work for spelling mistakes and using a dictionary.  I usually hear a groan when I ask students if they use a dictionary and the response,

“How can I use a dictionary- I can’t spell!”

I really do understand their logic and thinking.


Dictionary work

There are assistive dictionaries out there, such as phonics based one, but to be honest as a dyslexia teacher I’ve never really got to grips with it, so wonder how the students manage.  I bought my copy as a new teacher and I think it’s in a cupboard somewhere.  Mine has a cover which I think many teenagers and adults might feel uncomfortable producing on a desk at school, college, university or work.

Dictionary work

I can’t use a dictionary

Assistive software is great too but if another word looks very similar, how do you know you’ve chosen the right word or if you’ve had an attempt at spelling it, it could be a completely different word. In reality, unless you have permanent internet access, when you are out and about you can’t use this option either.

There are also speech to text software apps out there which can also be very useful.  However, keep in mind the student who may have an auditory difficulty, hasn’t quite heard the word correctly, doesn’t pronounce all the syllables and again their attempts to pronounce the word correctly and then select the correct word could again be inconsistent. See more about assistive software

I do use old fashioned dictionaries with my students.  We even use a thesaurus as I think it’s so valuable for them to develop language skills and to be able to express themselves effectively and maturely.

Teaching students in a synthetic phonics format using CodeBreakers® enables them to develop their knowledge of spelling choices. For example when consider how to make the LV /a/ sound (long vowel) such as in the word ‘rain’, we have many choices.  It can be made with a-e, ai, ay.  Some complex words can be made with ei, eig, eigh or even ey.

a-e bake
ai train
ay play
ei vein
eig foreign
eigh eight


Some are of the opinion that the English language is very difficult and at times it is.  However we do have some great rules of thumb that give some guidance such as ‘ai’ is found mid word and ‘ay’ at the end of a word.

If we also teach word morphology and etymology we can also give more clues and indication of how to know which spelling pattern to choose. It can make all the difference when trying to spell words such as ‘band or banned’.

Once has a student has all these pieces of knowledge they can then make a more educated guess as to how to the spell word.  Teaching students to sound words out into sounds and syllables enables them to then make a written representation of the word and use their knowledge of patterns to choose the correct spelling.   Asking a student to spell the word ‘complain’ they will then know that ‘complayn’ would be incorrect as ‘ay’ does not appear mid word.  At this point they can then check a spelling in a dictionary or through assistive software, with a more successful result.

CodeBreakers® works using a synthetic phonics approach.  We also use language skills such as homophones and word morphology and etymology to support spelling choices.   CodeBreakers® focuses on words and language and gives students an opportunity to write their own sentences using the words they have learned.  Putting words into practice is a key and vital way to ensure information sticks.

If you’d like to read more about CodeBreakers® visit our website:

SEN Jigsaw Conference 2018- Stoke on Trent