How is Saltmine & HIfwip different from Spalding?

Both teach vertical phonics. But the Spalding (WRTR) method is a stern taskmaster that takes much of the fun out of teaching reading, particularly if the instructor is using it for the first time. Parents comment that the TATRAS method (The Great Saltmine and Hifwip Manual) is warmer, more fun, easier for parents to understand and presents a quicker, more efficient way of helping children enjoy reading and spelling. Specific features of the TATRAS program that make it different from Spalding are:

1. Phonic facts & habit. TATRAS stresses the two components of phonics—phonics facts and the phonics habit—as the main guide lines for directing and evaluating the progress of each student's early reading progress. Understanding this concept is essential to a gentle, gradually-stepped, beginning reading program that will have no failures.

2. Alphabet. We ask that normal children know the names of the letters of the alphabet before starting to learn to read.

3. Starter Set. We provide a self-contained, separately boxed non-intimidating Penny Primer Starter Set for beginning readers. This set provides the materials to teach the first lesson in the manual and will probably be the most important reading lesson a beginning reader will ever receive.

4. Phonograms. Our computer analysis of the English language, confirmed by years of experience, indicates that our set of phonograms is easier to learn and provides for the "regular" decoding of far more words. The AUGH/OUGH and Y phonograms are examples.

5. Timings. We use one-minute timings instead of letter marking codes to teach the phonograms. Timings are quick and easy to do and are capable of measuring very slight improvements. This makes them particularly beneficial when dealing with difficult teaching situations. Most students perceive timings as fun. The timings accurately and objectively record progress and are easily administered.

6. Number of Core Words. Our computer analysis also showed that between 500 and 1000 is the optimum number of words to teach beginning readers for initial reading and spelling purposes. Using fewer words forces some word categories to be neglected. Using very many more words detracts from reading speed by failing to make available to the student a chance to learn the MOO (Most Often Occurring) words to automaticity.

7. Selection of Core Words. TATRAS Core Words include the 500 MOO words and all the irregular words down to the 3000th MOO word.

8. Definitions. TATRAS teaches definitions that clarify the reading process and that help instructors avoid reading-teaching pitfalls. Such definitions include: sight words, vertical and horizontal phonics, reading, irregular words, whole word memorization, basal readers, PA words, SMAWG, direct and indirect phonics, comprehension, blends, integrated & sequential (skills) instruction etc.

9. Easy to use with most primers. Because TATRAS' core words are the Most Often Occurring words, the S&H program works very well with, and can be followed by,  almost any of the commonly used first-grade primers.

10. Reading is "Road to Writing." TATRAS says that reading, not spelling, is the most important goal for beginning readers. We do not ask a beginning reader to spell a word until he has decoded it perhaps ten times and it is visually familiar to him.  

11. Short Term. The S&H program is designed to have children of a wide range of abilities, reading in from 6 to 24 months.

12. Phonics Rules. TATRAS thinks it is confusing to mix spelling rules with decoding rules. Our 12 rules are all phonic (or decoding) rules.

13. Spelling. Very few spelling rules should be taught to all first and second graders because sound phonics instruction and daily dictation will usually produce "natural" spellers. The 837 words of the S&H Manual are the first words a student should learn to read and the first they should learn to spell. (Every student will have to learn some spelling rules but these are best introduced as a student starts writing sentences and paragraphs.)

14. Writing. Children can learn to read without a heavy emphasis on spelling and writing. Every child, however, should have some daily challenge in forming letters and, as letters are mastered, easy spelling words.

15. Decoding Words. We start teaching the decoding of words (the phonics habit) after the student knows just four phonograms well.

16. Flash Cards. Our flash cards are economical and our phonograms are offset to allow efficient placement of cards when using them to spell words.

17. Instructor Training. We believe that a single slide show/video CD or DVD can provide the information most parents would need to teach beginning reading to children of a wide range of apptitudes. For twenty years we have also offered free telephone assistance that may be needed for teachers of some remedial readers, dyslexic students, ESL students, adult beginning readers or when the manual is used just to teach spelling.

18. Very Efficient. One of the major considerations in determining the order of introducing the phonograms was the frequency of occurrence of that word in the English language. The TATRAS sequence allows the Most Often Occurring words in the English language to be decoded as early in the beginning reading process as is possible. The combination of knowing the most important phonic facts, having the phonics habit and having studied the Most Often Occurring words to near automaticity will often start a student reading age-level texts at about the 22nd phonogram.

19. Normal Track & Fast Track. TATRAS outlines a separate program for remedial readers that determines their knowledge of the phonograms, allows them to start at that point and proceed rapidly.  Although the instructional material is in the S&H manual parents must call TATRAS for instructions on how to use them.

20. Very Few Words are Irregular. Less than three percent of the 3000 Most Often Occurring words are irregular by the TATRAS method. Those words are listed in one place in the S&H manual. Spalding claims about 15 percent are irregular by its method but then does not cite the irregular words or the list used to obtain that figure.

21. Syllables and Decoding. Ability to identify syllables should not be required in decoding rules because syllables cannot always be identified until the word can be pronounced.

22. TATRAS teaches 38 sounds. For teaching reading to English-speaking children it is probably necessary to use only 36 sounds. TATRAS, however, uses 38. Using 44 or 45 sounds is confusing to both parents and child and serves no useful purpose. For example, it is not necessary for a beginning reader to be able to distinguish, as a linguist could,  between the sounds of r (rose) and er (her).

1992, 2001, 2005  TATRAS®