A tool for the explicit teaching of literacy skills.

THRASS is an acronym for Teaching Handwriting, Reading And Spelling Skills. It is a system for teaching learners of any age about the building blocks of reading and spelling, that is, the 44 phonemes (speech sounds) of spoken English and the graphemes (spelling choices) of written English. THRASS has a unique methodology known as the THRASS Specific Pedagogical Practice (TSPP).

THRASS is divided into three main skill areas – reading, spelling and handwriting. These skills are interrelated and build on each other to increase a learner’s knowledge and understanding of the relationship between the 44 phonemes and the 26 letters of the alphabet – The Alphabetic Principle) – the key to successful reading and literacy.

THRASS uses Sassoon Infant font.

How can THRASS help?

Learners who have difficulties with handwriting will focus unnecessary attention on letter formation. When copying from the board, a work sheet or a book they are unable to concentrate on the words and/or the spelling choices (graphemes) in the words.

Learners who have difficulties with reading will be unable to accurately follow written instructions, or gain what they should in terms of pleasure and knowledge from reading books.

Learners who have difficulties with spelling will have problems with dictation activities and in expressing themselves creatively with free-writing. 

Many learners who are poor readers and spellers lack confidence because they are not aware that speech sounds (phonemes) may be represented by different graphs, digraphs, trigraphs and quadgraphs (one, two, three or four letters representing one phoneme i.e. spelling choices). That is, they are not aware of the Alphabetic Principle.

As in mathematics, it is not just the correct answer that is important, the working memory and understanding of how to achieve the correct answer are vital to the cognitive process (deep understanding) for future learning.

THRASS focuses on the skills of handwriting, reading and spelling and uses the physical act of handwriting to reinforce the Alphabetic Principle. As learners develop an understanding and awareness of phonemes and graphemes, they are motivated to detect the phonemes in words they speak and hear and to detect the graphemes in words they write and read.

Frequently Asked Questions


THRASS is for learners of all ages. It can be used equally effectively for Teaching English as a First or Other Language (TEFOL) or as a remedial process.


THRASS may be taught by teachers, teacher aides, speech pathologists, parents etc.


THRASS may be taught to individuals, groups or whole-classes.


THRASS teaches the letters, speech sounds and spelling choices of English. These ‘building blocks’ are introduced and reinforced through the interrelated skills of handwriting, reading and spelling. It is assumed that these skills are further developed and reinforced through the normal reading and writing experiences of a modern English curriculum. In particular, it is assumed that the learner is regularly helped to use picture, context and spelling-choice cues to read text, suitable books and environmental print.