Spellzone Inspires Confidence in Gulu Classrooms

Millthorpe School, York

READ for Life is a small NGO in Gulu, Uganda that specialises in teacher training.

Using their own phonics programme which reflects local culture, the READ for Life team provide ongoing training sessions for their colleagues in over 200 nurseries and primary schools in Northern Uganda.

READ for Life say about their work:

"Our incredible staff of Ugandan teachers is committed to training and supporting their colleagues to ensure all children leave the early years of their education with the reading and writing skills needed to engage in expansive learning.

When Ugandan teachers create a fertile foundation for the educational lives of Ugandan children, we see them grow in their potential as readers, thinkers, and learners and can only imagine the future stories they may live out for themselves, their communities, country, and world.”

While English is the academic language used in Ugandan schools, it is also a second language for many trainers and teachers. Over the school lockdown in Uganda, READ for Life trainers have been using Spellzone to practise their English spelling. The dynamic nature of the Spellzone course has allowed trainers to work at their own pace while practising the pronunciation of English words and getting to grips with English spelling rules. These are skills they will be able to share both teaching colleagues and school students.

After using Spellzone for a year, here is what some READ for Life trainers have to say:

Rubungakene Patrick, teacher trainer from READ for Life

I have never done a spelling programme online before, however Spellzone has been fabulous. It has really helped me with my pronunciation of English words as well as spelling rules. Thank you so much for this opportunity to learn online with Spellzone.

In particular, some of the things that I have really benefitted from on Spellzone include:

  • It has perfected my pronunciation of many words which I was previously pronouncing wrong (e.g. premature, brochure, etc.)
  • I was able to learn new words which I had never heard of before (e.g. haunt, apprentice, etc.)
  • The activities given during the course pathway made learning so easy and fun, especially ‘listen, write and see’; and ‘cover, write and check’; as well as the egg games which also helped to aid my memory of different spelling rules and patterns.
  • Lastly, I was able to learn a variety of different spellings that make the same sound (for example ough/augh) Thanks so much. It has given me more confidence in my spoken and written English. I am now a more confident teacher and look forward to learning more in the future with Spellzone.

Okello Dick, teacher trainer with READ for Life

Dick with six-year-old Myron Kimara during a recording of a lesson for the radio for a refugee settlement in Uganda - one of the projects READ for Life were involved in during school lockdown.

Wow! This website is really incredible. I know there are many websites designed to help people learn the English language, but Spellzone is the best I have come across.

These are some of the ways Spellzone helped me:

  • It is very difficult to learn English pronunciation well, but Spellzone helped me on the pronunciation of many words which initially I pronounced wrong.
  • Since we are teaching a phonics programme, I have learnt many ways of writing the same sound through Spellzone.
  • My listening skills are improving so much with Spellzone, especially when it comes to the Spelling Ability Test, where you listen and write the word.
  • I like the ability test challenge because every time I fail, I read to make sure I pass that challenge. In other words, I am continuing to develop a love of reading.
  • Spellzone helped me on some spelling rules and the reason why the spellings of some words change.

Ajok Nighty, teacher trainer with READ for Life

Nighty teaching phonics on the radio in Gulu, Uganda, during school lockdown.

Spellzone has helped me in so many ways! When I started, I used to confuse so many words but now I am able to differentiate some similar words. I am confident I will continue to make progress thanks to Spellzone.

Below is how Spellzone helped me:

  • To know the meanings of the words that I didn’t know before, for example hymn, subtle, etc.
  • I have learnt syllables and how to test and know the number of syllables in a given word.
  • I have also learnt the difference in meaning for homophones, for example weather and whether, current and currant, etc.
  • I have learnt how to spell many words which is helping me a lot and I shall also extend these teaching skills to school where I am teaching currently and also when conducting future trainings in phonics.
  • The pronunciation of words which used to disturb me but now I am able to pronounce them well.

Onek Reagan, teacher trainer with READ for Life

I am really so grateful to the Spellzone programme. It has really elevated my English Language abilities. As a teacher trainer during the lockdown we had here in Uganda, this programme has built my capacity and confidence in training local teachers in teaching phonics.

Before I knew about Spellzone, I was really struggling to master spelling rules such as:

  • When do we double a consonant letter in a word?
  • Why are some letters in some words silent? (lamb, knife, whistle, etc.)
  • The differences in spellings between British and American English (organisation & organization)

I have also been very interested to learn about how English spellings have been evolving over a long period of time (from the Romans, French, etc.).

The above-mentioned areas are only a few examples of how Spellzone has been so helpful to me. Thank you.

The READ for Life team is committed to changing the story in Ugandan schools. They will be continuing to use Spellzone over the next year, this time with the trainers sharing the resource with their own students. We can’t wait to hear how they get on!

READ for life

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"Spellzone is incredibly easy to access and caters for a wide range of abilities, which means you can use it throughout the school at a range of levels, making it fantastic value for money as a learning resource."

Anne Shisler, SENCO, City of London School for Girls