I was introduced to the Phonetic Zoo by another homeschooler in town who shared how it was helping her sons with their spelling. I wasn’t too sure about it but she then mentioned that I could test my oldest child with their placement test. My curiosity was picked and I was wondering how Alexandre, who is in grade 7 this year, would do in this placement test. So one day back in early November 2013, I sat down with him at our dining table and proceeded in giving him the placement test. At first, he wasn’t thrilled about it because he knew that he might have one more subject to do. But he complied and wrote the test.
The placement test is quite easy to do. You first give the spelling placement test I which would challenge kids from grades 3-5 (Level A). Immediately, I knew that he would have facility in doing this spelling placement test but we went with it anyway. Turns out that he had two errors with one of them was just because I had not given him a sentence using the word. The word was wait but Alexandre had written weight. So technically, he had only one wrong. Because he missed between 0 and 6 words, the placement test suggested that I give him the third test (Level C). So that’s what I did and started giving him the words in the Spelling Placement Test III. As I gave him the words, he dutifully wrote them on a piece of paper. After he finished the 50 words, I took his sheet of paper and started correcting the ones he missed. Based on the Spelling Placement Test III, he had missed 10 words. With this score in hands, I knew that if I wanted him to use the Phonetic Zoo, he would have to start at the level C (which is for high school and beyond).
Phonetic Zoo is a phonics-based program that uses auditory input to ensure that the correct spelling of each word is absorbed by the brain. The program is based on audio CDs which allow students to work independently much of the time, while allowing for the repetition in order to achieve mastery.
A package of Phonetic Zoom would include:
- 6 audio CDs
- Spelling and the Brain DVD with the following:
- Spelling and the Brain video seminar
- Introduction to The Phonetic Zoo video
- The Phonetic Zoo teacher’s notes PDF file
- Lesson Cards with all three levels of spelling words and jingles
- Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of your student’s typical misspellings
- Zoo Cards, which serve as a way to practice jingles or as rewards
This program is designed for children ages 9 and up. If your student is younger, begin with All About Spelling. There are three levels of the Excellence in Spelling program: Level A (primary), Level B (intermediate), and Level C (highest). By giving your child one or more of the three spelling tests available on IEW, you can determine at which level he/she should begin. http://iew.com/spellplacetest
Now, when I gave the placement test to Alexandre it was impossible to purchase this right away. However, I figure that I could always ask to review it. Imagine my delight when I got a positive answer and received the Phonetic Zoo Level C in the mail one day. Now, my son wasn’t thrilled at first. But seeing how easy it was to use and how flexible the program was in term of progression, he agreed to do it.
Phonetic Zoo Level C is specifically geared for grades 9-12 students. However, my son, being in grade 7, had done the placement test and could comfortably use it at his level. So we embarked on a journey of discovery in using Phonetic Zoo Level C late in November. It has been four months we are using it on and off because of Christmas and the Olympics in February, but so far I like the way the program is presented.
First the child has to use a CD in order to get the list of words to spell in the notebook we had purchased. Once he had gone through the first lesson, Alexandre was able to correct the ones he missed by himself. Afterwards, the student has to redo the lesson until all the words are mastered. Let me tell you that initially, my son wasn’t too happy about the fact that he had to redo the lesson, but to be honest I think it is the best way to learn. After all, isn’t there a saying that tells us that practice makes perfect? Anyhow, one of the lessons he had to redo three times. But when he finally got all the words right, he was very happy about it. Each lessons will challenge the child to spell correctly 15 words. The pronunciation of the words is well done and allow the child plenty of time to write the answer in his notebook. Following the spelling test, the next track on the CD will guide the child in correcting any words that he has missed. If one or more words are not spelled properly, the child will have to redo the lesson until mastery is achieve and all the words are spelled correctly.
In all the level we have received has 6 discs of lesson containing over 47 lessons. At intervals during the lessons, the child has to spell words from a personal spelling list. At that point, the student and his teacher can select 15 words from previously done lessons that need to be correctly spelled two days in a row. Once that is achieve, the student can continue the lessons with the CD until the next personal spelling test. The last CD also contains the final exam divided in two parts and asking the child to spell correctly a total of 70 words. If the child is able to spell correctly 63 words from that list, they are considered a mature speller. However, if the result is less than 63 correct words, the child is asked to go through the whole set of CD again in order to better grasp the spelling rules, jingles and hints that had to be memorized. The goal of this curriculum is to achieve excellence in spelling.
I am very impressed with the quality of the Phonetic Zoo curriculum. To be honest, the more I see my oldest son using it, the more I look forward for my younger kids to use the lower levels. And just the other day, I decided that I would also go through the Phonetic Zoo curriculum in order to deepen my English vocabulary (I am French Canadian). So I asked my son to give me the placement tests and I also need to start at Level C.
I highly recommend the Phonetic Zoo curriculum to anyone who would like their kids to improve in their spelling abilities. It is a great tool to have that will also teach the child to become more independent in their lessons as they grow up.
The price tag for Phonetic Zoo Level C for the CD alone is 79$. If you wish to purchase the CD with the printed materials (Lessons cards, personal spelling cards, zoo cards) then expect paying 99$ for them. (Note: all prices are in US dollar). Also available are Level A for grades 3-8 and Level B for grades 3-8. Phonetic Zoo Level C is also available in Canada via Excellent Resources.
Disclaimer: Thanks to Excellent Resources for sending me the above mentioned title for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.